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Champions Cup

Conor Murray reveals cause of neck injury

You won’t believe it.

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Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster and Ireland scrum-half, Conor Murray has finally revealed what caused his troublesome neck injury. A hiccup.

The Munsterman opted at the start of last season to keep the medical details regarding his injury private, leading to all sorts of rumours and speculation as to what the injury was.

Looking back, Murray now believes he was wrong in being so secretive, agreeing that the Munster season ticket holders who fork out hard earned cash to watch their team and star players deserved to know what was going on and when he was likely to return to action.

Murray was speaking to the Guardian newspaper ahead of his 30th Birthday and Munster’s Champions Cup Semi-Final v Saracens this weekend.

“I took a few bangs against Australia in the deciding Test last June”

“I was a bit sore the next day but nothing that would ring alarm bells. We went to the States, came home and I was fine driving to a wedding. But I had hiccups and felt a muscle go, like a tear. I thought: ‘Gee that’s sore.’ “

“But it died down, I went to the wedding and played golf the next day. Then the second morning I woke up and couldn’t move. My neck was in spasm. The physios agreed the disc was on the edge of slipping and maybe the hiccup shifted it.

“I didn’t want to release anything,” he continued, explaining why he left the public in the dark over what had happened.

“It was my decision because the medical staff didn’t know how long it would last or what needed to be done. In that window there’s a void and people fill it with gossip. But as long as my family and I, my coaches and teammates, knew exactly what was going on, I was fine.

“In that three-week void, WhatsApp groups flicked them all over the country. Even my friends in London or abroad heard rumours and sent them to me. Steroids, a failed drug test or the injury’s so terrible he’s retiring.

“It’s the right of the player to withhold whatever he wants but I now think there’s a responsibility, especially at Munster where rugby means so much. I know how much the season ticket holders pay, so they deserve to know when players will be back.”

It’s been 11 years since Munster last lifted the European Cup. In 2008 Munster toppled Toulouse in Cardiff. Munster and Ireland legends such as Paul O’Connell, Alan Quinlan, Ronan O’Gara & Peter Stringer lined out that day to taste European Glory but Murray is yet to achieve that honour and is hungry for success.

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“It would be incredible,” he said. “I’ve been lucky with Lions tours and Six Nations wins and I wouldn’t trade them. But winning the European Cup with Munster would be unbelievable. It means the world to me.”

“As a young fella, my thing was the Heineken Cup. Wow. I was there with my dad when Munster won it the first time in Cardiff in 2006. And I watched the 2008 final on the big screen in Limerick. There were tens of thousands and I was blown away.

“I also remember going into school after Munster lost semis and finals and people spoke about how they were crying at home. Munster and the European Cup is instilled in you. It means an awful lot here.”

You can relive the 2008 Victory with highlights below:

Challenge Cup

Ulster name team for Northampton Quarter-Final trip

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the trip to face Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

Michael Lowry is named to start at full-back, and is joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and Robert Baloucoune. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and Billy Burns and John Cooney are the starting half-backs.

In the front row, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Marty Moore retain their starting berths. Alan O’Connor will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second row. Last week’s Player of the Match, Sean Reidy, will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy skippering the team at openside and Nick Timoney at Number Eight.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea and Greg Jones will provide the forward reinforcements from the bench, with Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the back line options.

Ulster team to play Northampton Saints, Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, Saturday 10 April at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

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Champions Cup

Big names miss out for Ulster

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster match-day squad to face Gloucester tomorrow afternoon in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup has been named (Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm).  

The back line sees just one change from the side that played Toulouse last Friday. Michael Lowry, Jacob Stockdale and Matt Faddes all retain their positions in the back three. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume are the starting midfield duo. Billy Burns returns at fly-half and will captain the side; he will partner John Cooney at scrum-half.  

The front row remains unchanged for this game. Rob Herring is named at hooker, with Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore packing down at loosehead and tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor will partner with his brother David – who will make his first Heineken Champions Cup start with Sam Carter missing out through concussion. Sean Reidy has been selected at blindside, with Jordi Murphy returning at openside. Nick Timoney comes in to start at Number Eight to replace the injured Marcel Coetzee.

John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, and Greg Jones are the forward bench options. Academy player, Ethan McIlroy could make his European debut if called upon from the bench, and is named alongside Alby Mathewson and Ian Madigan in the back line replacements.    

Ulster team to play Gloucester, Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Saturday 19 December 2020 at Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:  

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns (Capt.), John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.  

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Champions Cup

Ulster name strong side to face Toulouse

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the province’s opening Pool game of the 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup against Toulouse on Friday (kick-off 8pm, Kingspan Stadium). 

In the back three, Jacob Stockdale returns from international duty to the left wing, joining Michael Lowry at full-back and Matt Faddes on the right wing. In midfield, Stuart McCloskey also returns from the Ireland squad to partner with James Hume. Ian Madigan has been named at fly-half alongside John Cooney at scrum-half. 

Having made his international debut against Scotland last week, Eric O’Sullivan, comes in to take the starting berth at loosehead prop. Rob Herring also returns from Ireland duties and is named at hooker, with Marty Moore retaining his position at tighthead. Alan O’Connor will partner with Sam Carter, who will lead the side from the second row. Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy are named at blindside and openside, with Marcell Coetzee completing the pack at Number Eight. 

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, and Matty Rea provide the forward options, with Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Craig Gilroy offering back line cover from the bench. 

Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round 1, Friday 11 December 2020 at Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Matty Rea, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.

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