IrishRugby.ie caught up with Geordan Murphy after Tuesday’s Ireland team announcement to get his reaction to being selected on the left wing for Saturday’s encounter with Italy.
Murphy, who started at full-back in Ireland’s last game, the World Cup defeat to Argentina, said: “Obviously I’m very pleased to be in the team for Saturday. We all want to be involved in the Irish team and it’s nice to be selected to start.
“To be honest, I haven’t really played a lot of rugby on the wing this season so it didn’t really matter which wing I was picked on.
“The whole season I have played at full-back over in Leicester but it’s not too much of a positional switch – it’s pretty similar, and I like to think that I can play on the wing – I’m not slow! – and hopefully it will go alright for me at the weekend.”
The Kildare native started just once during the recent World Cup – in the final pool match against Argentina – so does he view Saturday’s game as a chance to show that he should have got more game-time during Ireland’s campaign in France?
“No, not really to be honest. The World Cup is done and dusted now and obviously it was very disappointing for all of the players. Every player I have spoken to has told me how disappointed they were so I think it was a bad time for the whole country rugby wise and there is nothing we can do about that,” he admitted.
“All we can do now is try and learn from it and hopefully we will get some good results in the Six Nations and restore a bit of pride.”
Asked about whether the feeling in camp is one of this being a new championship or a chance for revenge for the World Cup, he added: “I think there is that sort of a new feeling and guys are walking around the hotel with a spring in their step for the first game. We’re just looking forward to getting out there and hopefully doing the business.”
Focusing on the Italian game, Murphy is expecting a tough challenge from the visitors who will be out to impress new coach Nick Mallett.
“Italy are a quality side and they get better every year. They are always a very physical side and technically they have improved massively as well.
“Their new coach has said that he wants to get an improvement and get them to throw the ball around a little bit. We can prepare a little bit for it, in what we expect, but a lot of it is about seeing what happens on Saturday.”
And his views on Pierre Berbizier’s successor Mallett, who coached South Africa to the 1998 Tri Nations title and enjoyed a world record-equalling 17-Test winning streak with them?
“He obviously has his style that he likes to play and he said that he would like to play a little bit more expansive again. He might expand the game a bit more and play fifteen style rugby,” Murphy said.
“Maybe a little bit less kicking and a lot more running of the ball. A lot of it we will have to wait and see, we can only do a certain amount of homework and learn from what they have done in the past and watch videos, but if they change it massively we will just have to adapt to it on the field.”
Mulling over Ireland’s goals for this weekend’s game, the Leicester clubman added: “I think first and foremost we want to try and get a win and we will take that in any way possible at the minute.
“The last Six Nations game we played against Italy, it was quite warm and dry in Rome and with the way the weather has been at the start of this week, it will probably be very different to that.
“Who knows what to expect and if we get a lead we will look to expand on the patterns and hopefully put on a show.”