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See the news Conor Murray: ‘Winning the European Cup with Munster means the world to me’ | Donald McRae | Sport from Source New York Times on 16/04/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

Conor Murray: ‘Winning the European Cup with Munster means the world to me’ | Donald McRae | Sport

‘I’m in the real world now,” Conor Murray says with amusement soon after he opens the front door to his house in Castletroy, on the edge of Limerick. His smile matches the two black eyes which make him look like a hardcore fighter during a brutal training camp. Of course this is the face of a professional rugby player who has won 72 caps for Ireland, played five Lions Tests and, after a magnificent nine-year career with Munster, is ready for a gripping European Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens on Saturday.Murray turns 30 that day and he is entitled to joke about his age after he took a bang to the face against Cardiff this month. “Everybody makes a big deal of it,” he says of a milestone birthday. “It gives you a chance to reflect, see yourself as a 21-year-old, see where you thought you’d be, then look forward to where you want to go. I’ve been very lucky so turning 30 doesn’t scare me. I feel fit and I’m enjoying my rugby. Let’s not forget some lads play into their forties.”It is time we found out what rugby union ultimately wants to be | Robert Kitson Read more The scrum-half laughs before his gaze turns steely. “I’m not going to do that but the next six-and-a-half months could be the best of my life. They could be career-defining.”The World Cup looms but, before then, Murray is consumed by Munster and his ambition to win the European Cup with his boyhood team. “It would be incredible,” Murray says. “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.”When Murray made his Munster debut nine years ago this Thursday, was his fantasy to win the European Cup? “One hundred per cent. 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.”Before looking ahead to the ferocious clash with Saracens, Murray acknowledges that the past nine months have been the most testing of his brilliant career. He finished last season on a high. After helping Ireland to win the 2018 grand slam, Murray was at the heart of a historic series victory in Australia. His rugby was so consistently impressive that, in November, he won the French newspaper Midi Olympique’s World Player of the Year award. Yet Murray was injured throughout the late summer and autumn. After choosing initially not to reveal any details, he was trailed by poisonous gossip which implied that Munster and Ireland might be hiding the results of a failed drugs test or a career-ending injury. The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. When he returned in the Six Nations, Murray and Johnny Sexton, his half-back partner, were held up as prime examples of why Ireland failed to reach heightened expectations. A shattering home defeat against England on the first weekend was echoed by a frustrating loss against Wales in their final game. Murray’s form came under unprecedented scrutiny.In contrast to the hysterical rumours that surrounded Murray’s absence, his injury was sparked by an innocuous hiccup. “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.”FacebookTwitterPinterest Conor Murray trains in Limerick last week with Munster, who will face Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho/Rex/Shutterstock Uncertainty surrounded the injury and Murray decided that “I didn’t want to release anything”. He says: “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.“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.”When did he hear the wildest rumours? “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.”Has it made him more cynical? “Yeah. You have to wonder why people are asking certain questions. But it’s good to be more careful.”It was hard for Murray to watch Ireland beat the All Blacks in November. “It’s difficult to...

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See the news Conor Murray: ‘Winning the European Cup with Munster means the world to me’ | Donald McRae | Sport from Source New York Times on 16/04/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.