Rugby

Conor Murray Is Going To Miss Munster's Great Double Act

Conor Murray Is Going To Miss Munster's Great Double Act

"I'm very sad about Zeebs leaving but to see them go is going to be very tough," said Conor Murray on Thursday afternoon.

The Munster scrum-half was speaking about what he calls an 'unbelievable double act': Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber. Both depart Munster sometime soon - though Murray is unsure exactly when that will be.

Much has written about Erasmus's impact at Munster since he arrived during summer 2016, guiding the province through the tragedy of Anthony Foley's passing.

Less had been said about Nienaber, Erasmus's fellow South African, and Munster's defence coach.

Murray speaks highly of Nienaber - someone he says it's frustrating to see leave and believes will be as big a loss to Munster as the departing Director of Rugby.

I have a massive amount of time for Jacques. He's an unbelievable character. He gets you geed up for defending. He keeps it interesting in meetings. He keeps it alive and going, keeps it interactive in training. He admits when he's wrong or when he doesn't actually know anything. He might have missed something and he looks for advice off his players. It really feels like everyone is allowed contribute to the defensive system.

Erasmus's successor as Munster boss will be another South African: Johann van Graan. Murray says that Van Graan was over last week and they talked briefly.

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"I was chatting to him briefly about where he's going to live with his family. He was coming over looking at schools for his kids and things like."

So far, Murray had learned more about Van Graan from his chats with Erasmus than with the man himself.

"We didn't get into the rugby side of things but speaking to Rassie about him: he studies the game unbelievably. He's geek about rugby; he knows everything about other players and other teams' systems."

Though it was known during the summer that he was on the way out, progression at Munster has continued under Erasmus.

After six weeks off following involvement with the Lions, Murray returned to training with many of his teammates already five weeks into pre-season. Standing on the sidelines for the first few days back, he could already see improvements from last season's stripped-back Munster style.

I was just watching training for the first couple of days and you could just see that Rassie was implementing progressions in certain aspects of our game.

People say that it's a conservative way to play, not really playing in your own half and then coming alive in the opposition half. We've definitely developed that.

I think Felix is doing really well with us and is giving us a licence to express yourself in your own half and take opportunities and just fine-tuning a few things.

"It was our first year with the lads and there were a few cracks in it that won't be there this year," says Murray who takes Erasmus at his word that progression will continue under Van Graan.

Ireland and Munster scrum-half Conor Murray today launched “Who We Are is How We Play”, the next phase of Vodafone Ireland’s “Team Of Us” sponsorship of the Irish rugby team.

This season Vodafone will give fans a rare glimpse into the childhoods of Conor Murray, Rory Best, Tiernan O’Halloran and Tadhg Furlong in their new campaign which will be live from November 1st.

Conor Murray: 'It's Not Like He's Dying Or Anything, He's Just Going Playing Rugby Somewhere Else'

PJ Browne
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