Richie Murphy keen to make Ulster move a more permanent one

Ireland scrum coach John Fogarty has joined Murphy in Belfast and will travel to South Africa

It’s all been a bit of a blur for Ulster’s new interim head coach, but Richie Murphy has made it known that he is interested in taking the northern province forward on a more permanent basis.

The Ireland Under-20 head coach, who last week fell just short of winning three Six Nations titles on the bounce, takes charge of Ulster for the first time on Saturday when they meet the struggling Sharks in Durban.

Murphy, who will be with the troubled northern province until season’s end, will also be assisted by Ireland scrum coach John Fogarty, who has been brought in on a part-time basis to cover a role which was previously in the ambit of axed head coach Dan McFarland.

“Yeah, I’m very interested in staying [at Ulster],” Murphy admitted at his first press conference since coming north.


“All these things over the next couple of weeks will become clearer. We haven’t had those discussions yet, but it is definitely something I’d be interested in doing.

“I’ve already been looking at places to live in Belfast,” Murphy, who is currently based in Bray, added.

Murphy also threw light on Fogarty’s involvement in bringing the latter’s scrummaging expertise to bear on the squad who currently sit fifth in the URC table with seven rounds to go before the playoffs.

“John is up for a period of time to help,” Murphy explained. “Dan [McFarland] would have done the scrum previously, so John will come in on a part-time basis, probably come in for two days in the week to help us prep the scrum for each game.

“He will travel to South Africa on Thursday and come back the following Wednesday, so he will come to the [Sharks] game, watch the game, review the game and preview for the Stormers. That will go on for a period of time,” he added.

While explaining that he has knowledge of quite a few current Ulster squad members through the U20s pipeline and before that when he was part of the senior squad, Murphy also pointed out that there would be, in the short-term, subtle changes to how he wants to see the province playing.

“I’m honoured to work for Ulster Rugby and excited with the group of players we have and to try and take them in a slightly new direction. In my head it’s about little things.

“I’m not going to tell you what those little things are but I think you’ll see them after a period of time, hopefully on the pitch.

“We will try and move the ball into the right areas, the basic philosophy of what I want to do – play the ball into space, not necessarily run into people, although sometimes you have to run into people to create that space,” Murphy added.

“I see it as trying to come in and help a team that, yes, are struggling a bit, but it’s just little things if we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves [and] concentrate on the day we’re in.

“My focus is very much on the here and now and the guys keeping their brains and heads where their feet are.”

Following this weekend’s match against bottom of the table Sharks, Ulster then travel to Cape Town to take on the Stormers ahead of returning home prior to travelling again to meet Montpellier in the Challenge Cup’s round of 16.

Ulster named a 30-player squad for their two-game mini tour to South Africa which will see Ireland Six Nations squad members Iain Henderson, Stuart McCloskey, Tom Stewart, Nick Timoney and Tom O’Toole all travel.

Missing from the travelling party are Marty Moore, Dave Ewers and Luke Marshall, while Ireland squad member Jacob Stockdale also remains at home following the birth of his second child.