Geordan Murphy, Leicester Tigers legend shares his memories of his club and international career and what the future holds.
I sat down with Leicester Tigers captain, Geordan Murphy over the festive period to get his thoughts on the club’s season as well as a look back at the Rugby World Cup.
Geordan Murphy has had a fantastic career to date. Despite numerous and often horrendous injuries, he is an Irish international, a Barbarian and British & Irish Lion. Geordy has won all the major tournaments in England and been part of a Tigers side that successfully defended their Heineken Cup crown. Geordy’s enthusiasm towards rugby and Leicester Tigers remains unwavering. He is a Tiger through and through and the heartbeat of the squad. Murphy has witnessed a lot of players come and go during his 14 years with the Welford Road side, including myself and 6 fellow Irishmen in 2007. Geordy and his team are aiming for their 8th consecutive Aviva Premiership Final in 2012.
LOC: After a slow start to the season, Tigers seem to be back on track?
Geordan Murphy: “It was always going to be tough for Tigers with 12 players at the World Cup. We also had long term injuries to Craig Newby and Jordan Crane which didn’t help. We lost 5 out of 6 games in all competitions which is not good, but with the exception of the Saracens defeat, we lost most of those games by a single score.”
“It was not easy to read some of the reviews of the Tigers games while I was in New Zealand. All the players who play for Tigers are good rugby players but it was tough for some of them who were thrown in at the deep end. We had a very young team and we lacked that little bit of experience that can win you games.”
“When I got back to Welford Road after the World Cup, we were under pressure. We had big games coming up and needed to get our season up and running. I told the lads that it will happen. Since then we have won 5 games out of 6 in the Aviva Premiership. We drew with London Irish in Welford Road which was disappointing. That’s a game we should have won.”
“The lads played very well against Worcester the other day and that sets us up for a huge game against Sale on New Year’s Day. We are tied for points with them in the table and a win will get us closer to that top four position. Realistically, Harlequins and Saracens may be too far ahead to catch and look like they will have home semi finals but we will go anywhere and back ourselves.”
LOC: The Heineken Cup will recommence in a couple of weeks. Tigers still have quite a lot of work to do?
Geordan Murphy: “We have 2 huge games coming up. On Friday 13th we play Ulster in Ravenhill. That is going to be a very tough game. They came here and played good rugby against us. Ulster are very hard to beat at home but we need to get something out of that game. Obviously we want a win. That would tee us up nicely for the home game against Aironi a week later. We want to get a bonus point win at home against Aironi but that will not be easy. We missed out on a bonus point win against them already this season. We need the bonus point to make up some of the points difference in the pool.”
“It’s a tough group. Clermont have done very well and are looking to qualify. Ulster will also fancy their chances of qualifying, as do we. We will do the best we can in our 2 remaining games and see what happens. It is still all to play for.”
LOC: I would like to wish you and everyone at Leicester Tigers success in all competitions this year.
In September and October 2011, Ireland competed in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Ireland came through the Pool games undefeated, beating USA, Russia and Australia. In the quarter finals, Ireland were beaten 10 – 22 by Wales, who finished the tournament in 4th place.
LOC: First you were out of the squad, then you were back in again, the Rugby World Cup must have been an emotional roller coaster for you?
Geordan Murphy: “In January 2011, I dislocated a bone in my foot and broke 2 toes. I was told that I would not make it back in time and that I wasn’t going to the World Cup. That was like a red rag to a bull! I decided to put the head down and worked hard at getting fit again. I didn’t go on holidays last year, I just focused on training and did a lot of rehab work on my foot. I was determined to make it back in time for selection. Unfortunately, the way it worked out, I didn’t get to play in the first few World Cup warm up games and I was told before the France game that I was not selected to go to the World Cup. Obviously I was gutted.”
“After the France game, I got a call to say Felix Jones was injured and I was suddenly back in. I have been in Felix’s position before and it was really tough on him.” (Murphy is referring to his horrific leg break in Ireland’s final World Cup warm up game against Scotland, which ruled him out of the 2003 Rugby World Cup). “I was delighted to be back in the squad again for the World Cup.”
“The competition was going until the Wales game. It is disappointing because we were better team that what we showed against the Welsh. Although, looking back, we were beaten by a better team. It’s strange when you get beaten because you leave the next day. You are shell shocked and it doesn’t really hit you until you are home. It was disappointing but now we are looking forward to the 6 Nations.”
LOC: The Irish seemed to be quite popular in New Zealand?
Geordan Murphy: “It was incredible. It really was. There were loads of ex pats and Irish people who lived in New Zealand and Australia. They created a great atmosphere. I remember as a child, watching Italia ’90 Football World Cup on TV and seeing all the Irish fans dressed up in green and looking like they were having an amazing party. That is what it was like in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. I am delighted to have been part of that.”
“After we beat Australia, New Zealand sort of adopted us. Irish and New Zealand people are pretty similar. We love our rugby, love our country lifestyle and love a good party. To see the cars driving down the streets painted green, New Zealanders dressed up as Leprechauns and the great spirit of the tournament was just incredible. The World Cup was a very enjoyable experience.”
LOC: You have a lot of good friends in the English squad. What did you think of their World Cup?
Geordan Murphy: “The World Cup was really tough for the English lads. The media came down very hard on them. It was not a nice situation. We were in a similar position in 2007 during the Rugby World Cup after some poor performances. It was horrible. The players were afraid to step outside their hotel or go for a coffee or do anything.”
“There seems to have been trouble from the top of the RFU. This wouldn’t have affected the players really as it does not have much to do with them, but it could have unsettled things.”
“I am sorry to see the management go. I have worked with John Wells and Martin Johnson at Leicester Tigers for years and Mike Ford was part of the Irish set up a few years ago. I know these guys well and it was not nice to see what happened. I have no doubt that these guys will be back involved in rugby again after some time off. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johno back involved in the English squad again, at some point in the future.”
“However, England probably needed an overhaul. It will be interesting to see them in the 6 Nations”.
LOC: Speaking of Six Nations, do you plan on adding to your 72 Irish caps?
Geordan Murphy: “I am still loving my rugby so why not? My body is feeling good apart from the usual bumps and bruises that come with playing consecutive games. We will see what happens. To be honest, I am undecided at the moment.”
Geordan Murphy and team mate Ben Youngs discuss all things Christmas
Rugby Player: Geordan Murphy Stats
Full name: Geordan Edward Andrew Murphy
Born: 19 April 1978, Dublin, Ireland
Height: 1.85m (6′ 1”)
Weight: 87kg, (13st 10lb)
Geordan Murphy position: Full Back
Geordan Murphy Professional Club:
Leicester Tigers: 1997-Present
|Heineken Cup||72 +1||25||10||4||157|
|LV= Cup||9 +1|
|Senior Cup||0 +2|
Geordan Muprhy International Appearances:
Ireland: 2000-2011, 74 caps, 98 points
British & Irish Lions: 2005, 2 caps
Barbarians: 2009, 1 cap
Geordan Murphy Honours
English Premiership: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2010
Anglo-Welsh Cups: 1997, 2007, 2012
Heineken Cup: 2001, 2002
Six Nations: Grand Slam 2009
Geordan Murphy Quote
Geordan Murphy was once described as the “George Best of rugby” by Dean Richards – not because of the plethora of women and painstaking stench of alcohol dripping off him as he rocked up to training – because of his undeniable talents with ball in hand and a god-given box of magic tricks that would have any rugby puritan gushing with adoration.
Gavin Hickie, The LineoutCoach, is a former Ireland, Leinster, London Irish, Worcester and Leciester rugby player now based in California and taking rugby to the USA. He writes for RugbyMag.com and other publications when not coaching for Belmont Shore and blogging on lineoutcoach.com