Ireland have a special plan to combat “magician” Sergio Parisse in Sunday’s vital World Cup clash against Italy, according to Conor Murray.
Fit-again linchpin Parisse will transform the Azzurri, the Stade Francais talisman finally over the calf haematoma he had to have drained.
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell believes Parisse “makes people around him believe”, and has warned his side not to underestimate the number eight’s influence at London’s Olympic Stadium.
“Yes we do look at them completely differently when he’s in their team,” said Murray, when asked if Ireland must adapt to cope with Parisse’s threat.
“We have to be very switched on to what he can do, but hopefully we know how to cover that.
“Individually and collectively he will galvanise them, he’s a world-class player and we’ve seen him over the last few years what a good player he is and the threats he brings.
“He’s an X-factor player, brings something out of nothing and can be a real magician for them.
“So he’s pretty important for them.”
Evergreen Munster lock O’Connell believes Parisse has the same kind of influence on Italy that Brian O’Driscoll used to exude over Ireland.
‘He’s right up there with the best,” said O’Connell.
“I’ve sat with him after plenty of games because I’ve been captain and he’s been captain. He is a little bit like a Johnny Sexton, or a Sean O’Brien, or Jamie Heaslip.
“I think he makes people believe around him because he believes himself so much.
“I suppose Brian O’Driscoll would have done that a lot for Ireland in the earlier days.
“We’ve looked at him a lot during the week, we guessed he was going to be back and was going to do everything he could to be back.
“He has everything. He catches high balls, he chases high balls, he chips, he can make turnovers on the ground, he intercepts, he’s a phenomenal carrier, if he has to go straight he has great footwork, he’s a brilliant passer, he pressurises the referee. He does it all.
“He’s right up with any of the great players who have played the game.”