Conor Murray speaks to the media this week
MUNSTER scrum-half Conor Murray has been impressed with how centre Sam Arnold’s career has progressed this season.
Arnold is set to become a key figure in Munster’s midfield through the crucial back-to-back weeks of European Champions Cup action against the Leicester Tigers following injuries to centres Jaco Taute and Chris Farrell.
Having made just one appearance for Munster in the Pro14 last season, 21-year-old Garryowen clubman Arnold has started in the province’s most recent two fixtures.
English-born Arnold, who joined Munster from Ulster on a two-year deal at the beginning of last season, looks set to partner Rory Scannell in the province’s midfield for the upcoming Champions Cu games with the Tigers.
Conor Murray has no concerns over Arnold’s ability to make the step up to play Champions Cup rugby.
Murray said: “Sammy and I chat quite a bit. You have to remember he was playing with Ulster when he was 19 and then he came down here and had a few injuries and was frustrated for a while because he couldn’t get a run of form because of injury and any time he has played, for us or the B&I Cup team, he has been really impressive and it is just reward for him.
“He has matured really well. When he spoke about it for the first time he was getting upset about not finding form and getting injured.
“He has developed as a player, matured as a person and he is going really well at the moment. If he gets the chance it is going to be a step up. It is up to the players around him to help him step up. He is a superb athlete, even our review from the Ospreys game last weekend, he featured so much in it.
”He is going really well so, ability wise, there is absolutely no problem. That is a challenge, stepping into that cauldron, but judging by the way he is going so far, I don’t think it will be an issue.
“Obviously Sammy as a player is brilliant, but Rory (Scannell) deserves a lot of credit there too because he is a vocal guy in our squad.
“He understands how we are trying to play and has been chatting to Sammy and trying to guide him around the place and letting him bed into the team as easy as he can.”
Murray is looking forward to the challenge of pitting his wits against Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs in Saturday’s Champions Cup clash.
Youngs was selected in the Lions squad to tour New Zealand last summer, but ruled himself out of the tour due to family reasons.
Murray said: “I have played against Ben (Youngs) a lot recently and it was disappointing he could not tour with the Lions in the summer, for family reasons. I am sure that was tough on him.
“He made the selfless call not to travel. I respect Ben a lot, we get on really well with him when we do meet each other. Playing against him is always a challenge, he is a top, top scrum half.
“And I think for me playing at home for Munster against Leicester in Europe is massive. Running out in Thomond Park this weekend is going to be class and playing against Ben is another little sub-plot that will give you a little more motivation because when you come up against these top players you want to play well against them and show how good you are.
“I am sure it would be the same for Keats, Tyler, JJ if they came up against George Ford. They would be the same. There are a lot of sub-plots.”
Twenty eight-year-old Murray made his Munster senior debut as a replacement against the Sale Sharks in a 2009 pre-season game in Cork. He has made 105 appearances in all for Munster.