Irish rugby has the grand plan, infinity and beyond for Spurs and Pochettino

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Ajax manager Erik ten Hag ahead of his side’s clash with Spurs in London. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag ahead of his side’s clash with Spurs in London. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

Fears over the fitness of Munster and Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray were allayed yesterday, as the 30-year-old returned to training with his province. Murray injured his neck in the warm-up ahead of last weekend’s Pro14 victory over Connacht, but Johann van Graan confirmed on Monday he would be fit for this weekend’s clash with Benetton at Thomond Park. Yesterday also saw the news Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty will be taking up a new role with the IRFU as National Academy forwards coach from July 1st. His departure sees Wales coach Robin McBryde join the Leinster set-up after the Rugby World Cup, and in his column this morning Gerry Thornley suggests this is further proof of the rude health of Irish rugby in comparison to Wales - despite their Grand Slam win earlier this year. He writes: “McBryde looks like another shrewd acquisition and, no less than pinching Dan McFarland from Scotland, another very Irish coup. Given the coaching experience he has developed over the last 13 years, à la Simon Easterby with Ireland, Leinster’s gain is Wales’s loss, for McBryde could surely have been an invaluable addition to any of the four regions.”

Tonight Tottenham Hotspur will play in the European Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1962, as they take on Ajax in London in the first leg of their last four clash. And manager Mauricio Pochettino - yet to win a trophy during his five years in charge of Spurs - is aiming for his side to go to “infinity and beyond,” as they take on the four-time European Cup winners. He said: “To be in the semi-final with Tottenham was a dream five years ago and we are living the dream. But you must always dream with the moon if you want to get to the sky. When you are ambitious and you want to achieve big things, you need to set your dream. I was always a dreamer. When I was very young, I dreamed in my home town of Murphy that one day I would be a football player and I achieved that.”

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