Conor Murray is excited about Munster this season. He knows it’s a statement he’s made in the past but this season, more than ever, he believes there’s something good about to happen.
Some of the reasons: he thinks Joey Carbery has settled in really well, as has Tadhg Beirne, who has been ‘class, really impressive’ according to the scrum-half.
Then there’s Mike Haley, the English-born back brought in to replace Murray’s good friend Simon Zebo who left for Racing 92 during the summer.
The loss of Zebo has been somewhat offset by the arrival of Haley from Sale. The 24-year-old is eligible to play for Ireland. Though, unlike Will Addison, another Irish qualified, English-born back, he has not been included in the Ireland squad for the November internationals.
“Mike Haley, he's bubbling,” said Murray at the launch of PINERGY’s #WeAre16 campaign.
“He's turned in a few good performances. I've given Zeebs plenty of stick that he's better than him."
“He’s brought the scooter gang. That is the main thing he has brought,” jokes Murray when asked what Haley has brought to the Munster party.
Yeah, a few of us have bought a few little electric scooters to get in and out of training. He had no car for the first few weeks, so we kind of jumped on that.
But no, he’s been really impressive. Laid-back guy, like Zeebs. Real laid-back and just naturally talented.
It’s a new club for him as well, so it probably took him a little bit of time to get used to it. He’s going to come to proper life soon. It’s probably just getting used to that new environment.
We’d seen some of his highlights from Sale, and some of the performances he turned in there were incredible. He’s got that.
We’ve seen that in training and we’ve seen glimpses of it in training. He’s a very able replacement for Zeebs… and less arrogant as well, so it’s great!
Murray will be 33 by the time his new deal - signed in early September - expires in 2022. When it does so, the possibility that he might move abroad is one he does not rule out. He recently went to visit Zebo in Paris and liked what he saw at his friend’s new club.
“I was over there, he took me into Racing's training ground on the Sunday after they played Lyon. It's a really cool setup, eye-opening to a certain extent.
“Zeebs was open about it - he'd always wanted to do it. I'd mentioned it before. It would be cool to have a change of scenery but I find it too good to leave here now - what you could potentially be involved in.
“That's a long way away, thankfully. By then you'll reassess and see what the lay of the land is. We'll see how Zeebs gets on over the next couple of years. It's early doors."
Zebo's decision to move abroad has diminished his chances of playing for Ireland. He was omitted from the Ireland squad for last year's November games. Just a week earlier, it had been announced he would be leaving Munster. He was also left out of the squads for the Six Nations and the summer tour of Australia.
Murray believes there is a chance Zebo will play for Ireland again.
"There's no rule, as far as I know, there is no rule in the contract that says if you leave, you can't be selected. It was never said to me. That would be your own choice, your own risk at the end of the day. We're very well looked after here in terms of game management.
"Zeebs knew that going away; before he left, he knew it would be a risk. He's playing really well over there but you wouldn't know if he'll be involved in an Irish jersey in the future. He could be, he's not written off from what I gather. That's the risk about going, I know they'll see you play but you're out of that system.
"I know when Johnny was there, he was selected. He was sore and he had to go away during the Six Nations and play for Racing. He was a bit beat up, a little bit, from his days in France - you'd have to ask him, did he feel like that? It certainly did look like it was a tough task to play international rugby for two weeks and then go away and play Top 14 which is a slog as well."
Picture credit: Sportsfile and INPHO
PINERGY today announced that it has teamed up with Munster scrum-half, Conor Murray, for the 2018/2019 season, as part of its innovative #WeAre16 campaign. PINERGY the official energy partner to Munster Rugby will continue its Fan of the Match competition and introduce the new PINERGY POWER PLAYER for the second year of the #WeAre16 campaign. The Fan of the Match will be presented with a match jersey at every home game along with two tickets to the game. Munster fans will have the chance to nominate themselves through PINERGY’S Facebook page before every home game this season.