Saint Murray could prove Scots' saviour against Italy
Wednesday 25 February 2009
Euan Murray already happens to be a Saint: a professional with the Northampton Saints. The tighthead prop shifted more than a little uneasily in his seat at Murrayfield yesterday, though, when it was put to him that he was some kind of saviour of the underachieving Scottish rugby union team.
There is no doubt that Scotland have sorely missed Murray's influential presence in their opening two Six Nations matches, which ended in defeat against Wales and France. After being named in the No 3 shirt for the home match against Italy this Saturday, though, the decidedly different front rower – devoutly religious, accomplished piano player, qualified vet – winced at the suggestion that he was "being looked upon as the man who is going to change everything single-handedly". "I wouldn't say that at all," he retorted. "In the pack it's eight guys working together. If any individuals think they're better than they are, then pride comes before a fall. We've got to work hard together and try to put things right. It's a team game."
Still, it would be fair to say that Scotland have a better chance of putting things right against Italy with Murray bolstering a pack that has been prone to crumble without him. On his last appearance at Murrayfield the 28-year-old Glaswegian had the Springbok loosehead Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira on the backfoot all afternoon. It was only last Sunday that Murray returned to action, for the Saints against Wasps in the Guinness Premiership, after three weeks out with a popped rib. "I wouldn't like to put a percentage on my fitness but I wouldn't be playing if I didn't feel ready," he said.
However, coach Frank Hadden warned about expecting too much too soon from Murray. "It's a tough ask for him coming in out of the blue. It's not going to be that easy for him to make the sort of impression that everyone would like him to make," Hadden said.
"There's no doubt he's a top-quality player and he brings bulk and experience to that row. But it's going to be an interesting challenge.
"As you're aware, when you bring guys into club teams to play for the first team, they're familiar with what the club are doing. When you bring guys in at international level, it's not as straightforward as that."
Glasgow captain Alastair Kellock also comes into the Scotland starting XV, replacing the injured Jim Hamilton in the second row.
Scotland (v Italy, RBS Six Nations Championship, Murrayfield, Saturday, 3pm): H Southwell (Edinburgh); S Danielli (Ulster), M Evans (Glasgow), G Morrison (Glasgow), T Evans (Glasgow); P Godman (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), J White (Sale), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strockosch (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow), S Taylor (Stade Français). Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow), A Dickinson (Gloucester), K Brown (Glasgow), S Gray (Northampton), C Cusiter (Perpignan), C Paterson (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh).
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho's attempt to influence football's decision-makers is not working. In fact, it may have backfired
Piers Morgan 'hurt' after Arsenal legend Bob Wilson questions his support for the Gunners and labels him a 'pompous individual'
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What colour is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia