Jordi Murphy set to make Ulster bow against Edinburgh

Jordi Murphy
Jordi Murphy

International backrow forward Jordi Murphy will make his Ulster debut on Friday night in the Guinness PRO14 game against Edinburgh in Belfast.

Murphy, who moved from Leinster over the summer having helped them to a PRO14 and European Champions Cup double, is expected to make his competitive Kingspan Stadium bow from the bench in the Ulster colours.

Also set to return this weekend is Ireland hooker, Rob Herring.

Both Herring and Murphy were involved in Ireland’s summer tour to Australia and missed last week’s opening win against Scarlets due to the IRFU player welfare programme.

Both featured in all three of Ireland’s Tests against Australia in June.

Forwards coach, Aaran Dundon confirmed that both players would be involved this weekend at yesterday’s Ulster Rugby media session.

He hinted that it may well be from the bench, head coach Dan McFarland keen to reward those involved in last week’s opening 15-13 win over Scarlets with a start again.

It took a last gasp penalty from scrumhalf John Cooney, to secure the opening round win over the Welsh region who were 2017 champions and beaten finalists last season in the PRO14.

Murphy and Herring will add further to Ulster’s dynamics, complimenting the ball carrying ability of Marcell Coetzee and Iain Henderson which was so previlant last week.

“(Ball carrying) It was one of those areas we struggled with last year especially if a couple of the main guys were carrying injuries,” said Dundon.

“Marcell is obviously a big unit and is carrying well and it is good to have him back.

“Jordi and Rob Herring will hopefully, if they come on or if they play, will add a lot of impact this weekend.

“Bringing a couple of fresh boys in and they have been working hard at pre-season, they are really eager to go, it will just add to the thing.”

The performance up front pleased Dundon last week - the pack had come under some scrutiny last year, particularly when key players were missing due to international duty or injury.

“I thought scrum time we were challenged a bit, but I thought the young lads in there fought hard and just a couple of scrums looked a little bit creaky but we fought out of it. We ended up getting by and doing well.

“It is going to be another big test, especially scrum time this weekend (against Edinburgh).

“I thought the lineout attack was good, but especially the lineout defence.

“I thought there were a couple of key moments, especially Iain Henderson at the end putting a lot of pressure on and getting a steal, it was a big moment in the game.”

Last year the Scarlets lilneout was the best in the PRO14, with over 90 per cent success rate.

In respect of targeting that on Saturday night, Dundon said: “I think it was working together really (reads and homework).

“Kind of knowing what each other is doing. The system we are using is so far been working well for us and we have put a lot of time in pre-season on it.

“It is not fully there yet, there are times in the game when we could have put more pressure on them, but did not.

“Just transition to giving set and even working hard to get in the air again, but look it was a good start and we have to keep working at it and keep developing and we see the benefits of it,” he added.