Jordi Murphy confident Ulster can make it to European knockout stages

Ulter's Jordi Murphy (left) at the European Champions Cup launch
Ulter's Jordi Murphy (left) at the European Champions Cup launch

Jordi Murphy arrived in Belfast over the summer with a European Champions Cup and Guinness PRO14 winners medals.

The Irish international was part of the Leinster squad which completed the unique double and now he hopes he can help Ulster taste that winning feeling.

Currently nursing an ankle injury, Murphy will miss this weekend’s Irish derby against Munster in Limerick, but he hopes to be back soon and pushing for a place in the side ahead of the opening two rounds of the European Champions Cup.

Attending Wednesday’s Euro launch in Dublin, Murphy said the aim would be to make the knockout stages.

“That is where you want to be at. It is a tough competition, but the ultimate goal is to get out of the pool,” he said.

“It (Champions Cup) is the best club competition in the world and it has just gone from stregnth to strength over the years.

“As a club player those are the weekends you really look forward to,

“The challenge starts from week one and the aim is always to get out of your group.

“You have to perform week in and week out in each round. You simply cannot afford to slip up.

“The competition the way it is you have to be getting something out of every game you play.

“Collectively, and for me personally, the goal is to get knockout rugby for Ulster this season.”

Ulster have failed to make the knockout stages for several seasons now and they squeezed into the premier competition in Europe after a lay-off win over Ospreys.

Murphy believes there is every reason to be optimistic about the chances this season, even in a tough group containing Leicester Tigers, Scarlets and Racing 92.

“Of course we are good enough to make the knockout stages,” exclaimed Murphy.

“It is a strong squad and there are some really good young lads coming through.

“There is a lot of energy in there and there is a new management. We are in a good place in the league (PRO14), couple of good wins under the belt.

“We need to just keep building on momentum over the next two weeks in the Inter-Pro games.

“But yes I do believe we are good enough to get out of the group,” added Murphy.

In terms of the current injury situation, Murphy suffered a knock to the ankle in the PRO14 game against Edinburgh over three weeks ago.

“It’s coming along well. We’ll see how we progress but it shouldn’t be too much longer,” he said.

And in terms of the move to Ulster, Murphy explained he bascially came to a crossroads last season and something had to change.

“Every international player has the ambition to keep playing international rugby so when I was left out of the November squad by Joe (Schmidt) last year, I just thought that I probably wasn’t playing enough with Leinster.

“I was stuck in a rut and needed a new challenge. I went to my agent and we started looking at places overseas but ultimately I wanted to stay in Ireland, and be under the IRFU umbrella, especially in a World Cup year.

“I had a good conversation with Ulster and it really felt like the right fit. I’m delighted I made the move. It was a big decision at the time.

“I’ve only ever known Leinster. I went to school in Leinster, I played seven or eight years with them but I was at the time of my career that I felt like I needed a change.”