Murphy facing a month on sidelines

Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 01:00

LEICESTER TIGERS’ captain and fullback Geordan Murphy could be sidelined for a month after suffering a knee injury during last weekend’s draw with Saracens at Wembley. The former Irish international sustained the damage after 14 minutes of the game in making a tackle and was forced to limp off soon after.

The Tigers face the reigning Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins on Saturday but Murphy’s enforced injury sabbatical makes him doubtful for the club’s opening Heineken Cup match against Toulouse on October 14th.

There was further bad news in the shape of a neck injury sustained by wing Miles Benjamin that could keep him out for three to four months.

Leicester’s head coach, Richard Cockerill, confirmed: “Geordan has a bruised knee and will be (out for) three or four weeks. That’s disappointing for him but that is the game we play. We just have to get on with it.

“Unfortunately, Miles suffered a pretty nasty injury to his neck against Northampton in the A League two weeks ago which has resulted in a spinal injury.

“He will be potentially out for three to four months. The injuries are disappointing and you don’t want them, but that will give opportunities for someone else to come into the side and perform. The season will be about the squad, and the club has always been about the squad and the sum of the parts rather than the individual. Yet again, that will be tested earlier than we would have liked.”

One of those who could benefit is former Irish underage international and Leinster academy player Niall Morris. He lined out at fullback for the Tigers’ A side in last week’s 45-23 victory over the Newcastle Falcons; Morris can also play on the wing and will be battling Matt Smith and Adam Thompstone for a place in the squad.

Another young Irishman who featured in that A match for the Tigers was Michael Noone. He joined the Rotherham Titans from the Doncaster Knights during the summer but was invited up to play at Leicester because Tigers’ backrows Craig Newby and Ben Woods were both forced to announce their retirement in recent weeks.

Noone, a former pupil at CBC Monkstown who played with the Seapoint club, was capped for Ireland at Schools, Under-19 and Under-20 levels but suffered a broken leg while in the Leinster academy. He decided to move to England to further his career with Doncaster.

A superb athlete he emphasised that quality last Monday week in an A match for the Tigers, scoring a try from the halfway line. It’s fair to say he made a positive impression as Cockerill confirmed that Leicester have offered the 22-year-old a contract for the remainder of the season.

“Michael played for the second team last Monday and did very well,” said Cockerill.

“We are finalising a contract for him for the rest of the season. He is a raw, young player with a lot of physicality and a real edge about him.

“There is a lot of talent that comes out of Ireland and there is not a lot of room at the table for all of those guys in their own country. He can play across the backrow and can carry the ball well.

“There is a glint in his eye that you get from some of the Irish boys that you meet and he is dead keen to get the opportunity and has shown some raw ability. We need to find the right people to replace the people that have left the club and, at this point; Noone will be a good signing for us.”

No one in for Cooper

Australia coach Robbie Deans has opted not to replace Quade Cooper in his squad for the last two tests of the Rugby Championship despite losing his first choice outhalf to injury for the rest of the competition.

Deans will instead trust in the versatility of his other backs with three members of the 28-man squad – Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale and Mike Harris – all familiar with the outhalf position.

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