Despite not featuring in the starting line-ups for either the Namibia or Georgia games, Geordan Murphy admits he has enjoyed his first Rugby World Cup so far – from his 30-second cameo against the Namibians to exploring the squad’s base of Bordeaux.
Murphy made his tournament debut as an injury-time replacement for Brian O’Driscoll in the 32-17 defeat of Namibia and while bench-warming is not his favourite hobby, the Leicester Tigers clubman is happy with his lot so far.
“I’m enjoying it. I’m only here for the first time…it’s a huge thing for me to be here and, yeah, I’m enjoying it,” he admitted.
“Out here (at the team hotel), we’ve only had one or two days off so it’s been hard work. But we’ve gone in town and had a look around and it’s a nice city. We’re a little bit remote out here alright but we’re here to do a job – we’re not here to enjoy ourselves too much.”
With coach Eddie O’Sullivan giving the starting fifteen from the Namibian game a vote of confidence for Saturday’s clash with Georgia, Murphy has to be content with a bench role again but he understands the management’s decision to keep the faith with the side.
“I’m sure the guys (that didn’t make the squad) are disappointed. Everyone wants to go out and play. If the lads had done a more effective job against the Namibians, Eddie (O’Sullivan) might have been able to give a few more of us a run,” said the Kildare man.
“I suppose, from Eddie’s point of view, we needed a little bit of continuity in the team and it was important for him to pick the same players.
“For the guys who aren’t getting a run, it’s difficult because everyone wants to play. But what we can we do? We just have to remain positive. This is a team effort and we have to try to do our best as a team.”
A lack of game-time in a long tournament can sometimes leave a player disillusioned but Murphy and the rest of Ireland’s fringe players know full well that in a competition such as this, anything can happen from game to game.
That is why they are working just as hard on the training pitch at Stade Bordelais and behind the scenes as Ireland’s frontliners are.
“You never know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t look likely that some of us are going to see a lot of game-time. But anything can happen,” Murphy surmised.
“We have to just keep training hard, and keep training hard with a view to ensuring that the guys going out are well prepared. We have to work hard in training when we play against the guys that are starting but we also have to make sure we’re in shape if we do get a shot.”
Murphy’s 51st Ireland cap was over in a flash last weekend as just seconds after coming on, referee Joel Jutge blew for full-time but despite not breaking a sweat, the two-time Heineken Cup still admitted that it was still “fantastic to get a cap.”
“I would have liked to have played longer but the old 30-second run-out merits a cap so what can you do? Everyone’s keen to get a run. But that’s not the way it goes. If I have to stay and do my piece in the stand, that’s fine as well,” said the 29-year-old, who debuted for his country back in 2000.
“It’s frustrating to only get that much time on the pitch, but it’s still great to get a cap though. There’s a lot of people who’d kill for those 30 seconds. It’s frustrating in that you might think that you might only get a couple of touches.
“I was only on for an injury. Drico (Brian O’Driscoll) took a knock on his arm and I came out on the wing. So it was really just a case of going out there and standing around for a while!”
Turning his attention to Saturday’s Pool D encounter with Georgia, Murphy is expecting a difficult assignment for Ireland after he watched the Lelos in action against Argentina on Tuesday.
“I thought Georgia were very impressive (against Argentina). We know a lot about them already. They’re big guys and very committed. They’re not here to make up the numbers – they’re here to give everyone a good game. We’ve a tough game ahead of us on Saturday,” he insisted.
The Georgians, who were heroic at times in their 33-3 loss to the Pumas, only have a four-day turnaround before they tackle Ireland in Bordeaux but while fatigue may become a factor for them, Murphy reckons they have the strength in depth to cope.
“I suppose there’s two ways to look at it (Georgia having played on Tuesday). I suppose you could look at it and say that the Georgians will have had a game under their belts and will have a little bit of continuity going.
“You could also look at it and say that they will probably be a bit tired, but we know that they have a big squad as well. They’ve more big guys to come in there if they make changes so it’ll be a very tough game for us regardless.”