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Rugby

Six Nations preview | Is Conor Murray slowing Ireland down?

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

19:40 18 Jan 2021


Andy Dunne would not choose Conor Murray at number nine if he was in charge of Ireland's Six Nations squad.

Dunne joined Monday Night Rugby to preview the showpiece tournament, one that is taking on extra signficance for an Ireland team that is wanting for form.

He believes that an injection of creativity at nine could help kick Ireland up a gear, as Eoin Reddan did during his career.

Six Nations preview

"Reddan would have worked closely with Paul O'Connell; he regularly changed lineout calls, changing how he received the ball and how the backline received it. This was as opposed to accepting what Paul O'Connell gave him.

"It is that level of involvement in the overall strategy and outcomes on the field that I would like to see a shift towards. That is not to diminish the responsibilities on Sexton, but to share the responsibility so that not one person becomes responsible for the overall tempo.

"Our nines have been responsible for slowing everything down rather than speeding things up."

Le petit général

Dunne believes that this style is in contrast to what we can see in Wales or France, with a little more flair on show.

The French role of 'le petit général' is one that particularly struck Dunne as a role that any Irish nine should look to emulate in the Six Nations.

"The criticism has probably been levelled towards overuse of the box kick. Again, we don't know exactly to what degree that is his decision or how much he is prompted by a coaching diktat.

"The likes of Fabien Galthié, Pierre Mignoni - and now Antoine Dupont with a backup of Baptiste Serin - it is very clear that they are the little generals on the field.

"It is just that shift in ownership; I would like to see the nines empowered with more responsibility because I think they are in that position where they are central to how we dictate the speed levels within our game.

"We are sometimes looking at that as an afterthought, then the reliance shifts out to a 10 or a second receiver, but by then it is too late. It is 10-15 yards to wide in the channel.

"It then becomes this blunt force trauma, we return to this one-yard rugby which can be exhausting, boring and difficult to watch."

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