He has been involved in some titanic battles with Scotland, and Ireland scrum half Conor Murray is expecting something similar when the teams meet at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The Limerick man has faced the Scots on nine previous occasions and while his record stands at seven wins and just two defeats, Ireland have been made to work hard for a number of their victories.
Either side of a convincing triumph at last year’s Rugby World Cup, they were forced to dig deep before securing nine and seven-point successes over Scotland in the 2019 and 2020 Six Nations respectively.
Speaking at the IRFU High Performance Centre, Murray said: “They’ve been really close battles (with Scotland). We’ve tagged on a few scores late on in most of those games. They’re always a really difficult side to play against.
They’ve a few new fellas in there and exciting players. If they had played against Georgia last week and struggled to put them to the sword, we’d be more confident than we usually would.
“I’m sure they are, I’m sure they’re licking their lips. That’s the challenge for us. To go out, right the wrongs from last weekend and put it up to the Scots.
“Because they’ve no fear of coming to the Aviva. They always seem to put it up to us. It’s a game they always play well in and it’s definitely a huge challenge for us.
“We’ve been enjoying camp, we’ve been enjoying the way we’ve been playing. We’ve seen really good glimpses of it. It’s another chance to go out there and show people.”
Ireland will themselves be motivated by their below-par performance against Georgia, which saw them failing to build on a 20-7 half-time lead and only tag on a penalty from replacement Ross Byrne.
Last Sunday’s game has since been dissected in great detail and Murray acknowledged the players took full responsibility for not living up to their own high standards.
“I thought the first half was good. We wore them down. We had a few tries held up over the line and if they go your way, the scoreboard is very different at half-time and the second half becomes a lot different.
“The first half was good and then the second half, we deserve not to score too many points in that half. Because like Andy (Farrell) said, the Georgians deserved to slow down our ball.
“They made our breakdown really hard and we got what we deserved, effectively. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and expect to perform a lot better, especially given the way the first half went.
“We reviewed the game and we were harsh on each other. It was the way it needed to be and we didn’t shy away from it. We all fronted up, accepted the mistakes and moved forward.
“We have been going quite well, the way we’ve been trying to play has been really exciting and enjoyable. If we had a good second half against Georgia, we’d be having a completely different conversation.”
This final Guinness Series clash, which is the 3rd-4th place play-off in the Autumn Nations Cup, presents Ireland with a gilt-edged opportunity to put together a consistent 80-minute performance and close out 2020 on a positive note.
Avoidable errors have prevented them from gaining sustained momentum in games, but Murray admitted this needs to be rectified sooner rather than later.
We’ve reviewed the (Georgia) game honestly and truthfully. There’s an appetite in the squad to get it right this weekend.
“I’ve said it in loads of interviews, there’s small fixes or we’re very close to this and that. It’s up to the players now, the coaches have given us everything we need to go out and perform. It’s about us executing.
“At the weekend it was a matter of executing the breakdown or getting fast ball or letting the Georgians slow it down. Things like that, that are solely on the players’ backs to get right and, off the back of that, being able to convert opportunities.
“We were annoyed at the weekend that we didn’t perform better and put some points on the board, even though Georgia fully deserved to be in the game.
“You can just sense it as a playing group, we’re frustrated with what we’ve shown last Sunday and we want to put it right this weekend.
“That usually leads to a much better performance when the players take the ownership and understand that it was on them and that a lot of the fixes are down to the players.”
The emergence of Jamison Gibson-Park onto the international stage has provided Murray with additional competition for the scrum half jersey, with the experienced Kieran Marmion also in the mix for selection on Saturday.
For Murray, it is important that the competition for places within the squad remains strong if they want to push themselves back up the world rugby ladder.
“You’ve seen people being given chances and rightly so,” admitted the Munster star. “Then people starting in big games, all across the team. The whole squad, people have been given chances.
“People have taken them, people have played well. There’s opportunities being given. The feeling around the whole squad is anyone could be given a chance any week.
“Certainly my mindset is if you do get a chance, you really want to be ready to take it. You make sure your week goes really well, your prep and your concentration is right up there.
“I’m sure I speak for the whole of the squad. That branches out and that’s infectious, that kind of energy. When there’s a walk through or in team training, everyone is really keen to impress and really keen to get things right.
“There’s that kind of new energy throughout the group. With a lot of new players and a relatively new structure, there’s a massive competitiveness.
“Which is only good, it’s definitely only a good thing for our squad. It’s just about taking your chances and hopefully you get the nod.”