Conor Murray: We won’t underestimate wounded England
‘They’re going to have a lot to play for, a lot of pride as well. Full of world-class players’
Conor Murray talks to the media at Carton House on Monday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Everyone who participated in Ireland’s game against Scotland on Saturday has been given a clean bill of health facing into a possible Grand Slam winning match against England.
But scrumhalf Conor Murray warns that Ireland need to step up another level if they are to break England’s dominant home record at Twickenham to earn the first Slam since 2009 and just the third in Irish rugby history.
“We’ve got better in every game in this championship,” said Murray. “But good as we’ve been, it won’t be good enough against England. We will have to go to another level to beat England.
“Every game is different, every game we’ve learned something about ourselves; we’ve addressed it in the meeting room, we’ve ironed it out in training, and it’s got better.”
There was no doubt in the mind of the Irish scrumhalf that Ireland have the resources to win for a reverse of last season, when Ireland prevented Eddie Jones’ side from collecting the Grand Slam trophy in the final game.
While Ireland have not been perfect in any of their matches so far, Murray believes they are fixing problems as they go along.
“With every team, you never play the perfect game,” he explained. “Maybe you’re trying to do that so there’s always fixes - definitely with this group, with the experience, the new guys coming in, the younger generation that have added so much, there’s something there, there’s another level that we’re striving towards.”
While the words Grand Slam had been banished from camp conversation, it is now a reality and the players have begun to focus on what it means to achieve a third.
Murray has it on top of his list of things to win, which includes Ireland’s defeat of the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016.
“Be up there, probably up there at the top,” said Murray. “Only Rob (Kearney) and Rory (Best) are left that have done a Slam and we can start talking about it now, because that’s what’s in front of us if things go well.”
An important part of the winning streak has been how effectively the younger players have adapted to international level and slotted into positions as players have fallen away injured.
Their relative inexperience has been no barrier to Ireland’s progress.
“It’s a comforting thing to have,” said Murray. “There’s a crop of younger players in this group that the older, more experienced players can guide through the week. I wouldn’t have any fears about the younger players, they’re just so good at rugby that it comes so naturally to them.”
England, hard bitten by their defeat in France and determined to maintain their home record combined with mounting pressure on coach Jones makes them a dangerous side to face.
“I wouldn’t get fooled by the fact they’ve lost a couple of games,” added the Irish scrumhalf.
“I still think they’re a really, really good side that can be very dangerous. I don’t think we’ll fall into that trap. Definitely not. I think we’ve enough knowledge about them and experience to deal with that. We still believe we’re good enough and we would be.
“England are going to be no different. They’re going to be coming home. They’re going to have a lot to play for, a lot of pride as well. They’re full of world-class players.”