Heineken Cup: Can Conor Murray be Munster’s perfect 10?

Heineken Cup: Can Conor Murray be Munster’s perfect 10?

Peter O’Mahony’s legendary feats on the wing are well documented at this stage, with Donal “Triminjus” Lenihan only needing the most obtuse invitation to drop into dinner party conversations that he once played there in an AIL final, but he may have to start looking over his shoulder.

When it comes to stand-in feats of extraordinary and unlikely versatility, there is a new sherriff in town. Step forward his Munster colleague Conor Murray in what must be a slow news week in rugby circles.

With JJ Hanrahan injured, Munster have only Ian Keatley available to play 10 in their Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon, and if anything should happen to him, it appears that Murray is the closest thing they have to a backup.

His credentials for the role are impeccable. According to The Irish Independent he — get ready Triminjus — played there in the AIL for Garryowen (though not in a final, so maybe O’Mahony still wins that Top Trump contest), has been practicing his goal kicking in recent warm-ups, but most significantly of all, he worked with Neil Jenkins on the Lions tour. Neil Jenkins! Worked with! Lions Tour! Give the man the 10 jersey and proclaim him the new Rog!

The alternative being considered by Rob Penney seems to be Johne Murphy.

It’s a bit of a peculiar position for Munster to find themselves in, but so long as Ian Keatley can hop on one foot it’s unlikely to amount to anything terribly meaningful. Having three senior fly-halves is a luxury the Irish provinces haven’t had since Jeremy Manning traded his role as third choice at Munster (behind the never-injured Rog and classy utility back Paul Warwick) for Newcastle.

It’s worth recalling in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, Geordan Murphy was nominally the third-choice 10. Leinster and Ulster were blessed to have the likes of Isa Nacewa and Paddy Wallace (and latterly Stuart Olding) who could perform functionally at 10 if required.

The scrum-half filling in at 10 is more of a French tradition, whereas in Ireland it’s usually the 12 (Wallace, Olding) or the 15 (Murphy, Nacewa, Warwick) who tends to take up the role, although Tomás O’Leary once gave a decent 10 minutes against Italy while Rog was in the sin-bin for boldness.

Conor Murray, all round footballer that he is, does look the best choice. Did I mention he once played there in the AIL for Garryowen, and he worked with Neil Jenkins on the Lions tour?