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Farrell: Murray a ‘genuine option’ at fly-half for Ireland

Farrell: Murray a ‘genuine option’ at fly-half for Ireland

Farrell: Murray a ‘genuine option’ at fly-half for Ireland

Conor Murray was pressed into emergency action at fly-half during Ireland’s win over Wales and head coach Andy Farrell claims he’s now a genuine option to start at No.10 against England.

Every one of Murray’s 81 international starts have come at scrum-half but after Johnny Sexton left the field in Dublin with a hamstring complaint and his replacement Billy Burns later exited with a head injury, the 31-year-old suddenly found himself in the ten channel for the final 15 minutes.

He acquitted himself well, looking assured and booting two penalties and a conversion for good measure, as Ireland saw out a 32-9 victory to kick-start the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup in style.

Sexton and Burns’ availability for next weekend’s trip to Twickenham is still unclear and if both are ruled out, then Ross Byrne would be the only recognised No.10 left in the squad.

The likes of Jack Carty or youngster Harry Byrne could be called in as cover, yet Farrell wasn’t averse to the idea of Murray donning the fly-half jersey from the start in London.

“Conor actually thinks he’s a fly-half already,” Farrell laughed. “He did pretty well, didn’t he? Conor has played there before for us.

“He is a smart rugby player. He understands what’s going on across the back-line, not just at fly-half or scrum-half.

“He steered the ship really well for us. He’s a genuine option there, definitely.”

Murray started the Wales game on the bench, with Jamison Gibson-Park given the starting nod at scrum-half and the Leinster star impressed in that role.

Ever the professional, Murray claims he is happy to play wherever he’s needed and insists that working so closely with fly-halves over the years has given him an understanding of the role.

“If asked, I will (play 10),” Murray said. “You have to be realistic and mature about selections.

“Jamison has been playing well and deserved his chance. Of course, you want to play every time you are available for selection but it’s not about you. It’s about the team.

“You are always conscious when you are on the bench that anything can happen in terms of injuries.

“What made it easier for me being at 10 was the fact that I’ve spent so much time in training playing inside the 10, so you have a fair idea of where you are supposed to be.

“Having a bit of an understanding of what they are wanting from you as a No.9 did make it a little bit easier just slotting in one position over… it was enjoyable.

“Add in the fact the lads out there are chatting to you, looking after you; that helped a lot.”

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