06 April, 2011

Divided loyalties a thing of the past for Leicester's leading (Irish) man: Heineken European Cup Quarter-Final Preview: Leinster v Leicestrer Tigers: Sturday 9th April: AVIVA Stadium, Dublin:

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Thumbs up from Leicester's leading light
Divided loyalties are a distant memory for a man more a part of the fabric of the Leicester Tigers culture than any other player, English or otherwise, at the club. He has been there that long. Geordan Murphy left the land he loves in 1997 for another he grew to love over the long stretch of 14 seasons.
The Kildare man is a one-club player. He whizzed to the 200-cap mark against Harlequins at The Stoop in January 2008; through the 250 barrier at Saracens in April 2009 to currently stand at 285 appearances.
The Tigers captain would have been hot-footing it towards the 300 mark were it not for breaking two bones in his foot and dislocating his ankle against Northampton in January.
His Six Nations was wiped out when Ireland badly needed him.
The Leicester website describes him as “one of the most decorated men in UK rugby and (one of the) most gifted players in the world game”.
That is how high they hold him in their esteem. He played in his sixth consecutive Premiership final at Twickenham last May, winning his seventh medal, his second as captain.
Despite 69 Ireland caps; Murphy is more appreciated in Leicester green
The list goes on: he is all - time top try scorer in the Heineken Cup for Leicester, has played in four Heineken Cup finals, winning in 2001 and 2002 and captaining the side in 2009 that lost by a thin margin to Leinster.
If Leinster and Leicester are his homes, he has been right at the ‘hearth’ of the Heineken Cup. This must make it all the more cutting to be ruled out of the mouthwatering quarter-final between his two clubs.
Capped 69 times by Ireland, there has always been the underlying suspicion that he is treasured far more at Leicester, and the Premiership in general, than he is in his homeland.
Murphy, speaking candidly this week whilst lifting the pressure off his current club ahead of this weekend's Quarter-Final between his two clubs says: “There has always been so much focus on the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Isa Nacewa and Rob Kearney (injured).
“Leinster have class right across the board, so it will be interesting to see what style they bring on the day.”
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is a key man for Leinster but they have many other stars
One would almost be tempted to feel for ‘poor Leicester’ were they not looking down on everyone else in the Aviva Premier - ship as they plot their third Premiership title in a row; their fourth in seven seasons.
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