Conor Murray is a big leader for Munster – OConnell

first_imgIT WASN’T JUST supporters who were relieved to hear about Conor Murray’s new two-year contract yesterday.Munster lock Paul O’Connell joined the outpourings of relief upon learning that his teammate will remain on home soil until 2016 at least. In the former Lions captain’s opinion, the scrum-half is integral to the province’s hopes of success over the coming seasons.“That’s brilliant news. He’s a fantastic player, a great trainer, a great guy to have around the place. He’s everything you’d want in a teammate, so that’s a great bit of news.”Irish rugby is in an uneasy position currently, despite the confirmation that Murray will be staying. The likes of Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Donnacha Ryan and Martin Moore are all out of contract at the end of the season and have been heavily linked with moves abroad.However, O’Connell says there are important advantages for players in deciding to re-sign in Ireland and feels that Murray’s mind may have been swayed by those positive points.I think the Irish team and the Irish provinces have a great set-up. We’re really well managed from a medical point of view, from a physical point of view. Rugby is a very tough sport and I think you need to care [about] what you’re playing for.“I think that’s very important and I think that’s one of the strengths the Irish provinces have. It’s brilliant Conor is staying. He’s a fantastic player, he’s a man for the future; a big leader for our team in the way he conducts himself, the way he plays and trains. So I’m delighted he’s staying.” O’Connell says Murray is a huge part of Munster’s future. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland.Munster have also announced the addition of Cardiff Blues back row/lock Robin Copeland for next season and O’Connell agrees that this is another positive step in the province’s development. The Wexford native has excelled at No. 8 for the Welsh side in recent times, but his versatility will be useful.Copeland has reached this point in his rugby journey after spells with the Leinster Academy, Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans in the English Championship, before finally pitching up in Cardiff. O’Connell has great respect for the road less traveled.“I’ve never met him, but he seems to always play well against Munster. Cardiff aren’t a side that’s always going forward at the moment, but he always seems to stand out and seems to be able to dig in and produce performances in a side that’s struggling.“He’s Irish as well, and that’s another important thing. He’s a really good signing and fair play to him; he’s done it the hard way. You have to have respect for these guys who go away. [Damian] Varley did it, [Jerry] Flannery did it, [Eoin] Reddan did it.Those guys go away and create a career for themselves, and then are badly wanted by the provinces. You have to admire that mental strength and that part of his character as well. So I think he’ll be a really good signing for us.”The next step for Munster is tying up the ongoing negotiations with O’Connell himself. The 34-year-old’s current contract ends next summer, but it is understood that he is close to agreeing a new deal.Seeing the iconic lock in any jersey other than Munster or Ireland’s is close to unimaginable, and given his enthusiasm for Munster’s future it would be no surprise if his contract announcement is next in line.Audio courtesy of Limerick’s Live95FM.Like rugby? Follow’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >Simon Hick column: The horizons have shifted after Leinster’s Garden partyAnalysis: Leinster’s accuracy returns to blitz the Saintslast_img

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