Conor Murray has finally revealed that an innocuous hiccup sparked the secretive neck injury that resulted in rumours he had failed a drugs test.
The Ireland and Munster scrum-half opted at the start of last season to keep the medical information regarding the problem under lock and key, leading to all sorts of wild speculation as to what was going on.
He now admits he was wrong in being so secretive, agreeing that the Munster season ticket holders deserved to know when exactly a star player they had paid good money to watch would be back in action.
“I took a few bangs against Australia (in the deciding Test last June),” he said in an interview published in the Guardian newspaper ahead of the Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens next Saturday, a fixture that coincides with his 30th birthday.
“I was a bit sore the next day but nothing that would ring alarm bells. We went to the States, came home and I was fine driving to a wedding. But I had hiccups and felt a muscle go, like a tear. I thought: ‘Gee that’s sore.’
Conor Murray: 'I’ve been lucky with Lions tours and Six Nations wins and I wouldn’t trade them. But winning the European Cup with Munster would be unbelievable. It means the world to me.' By @donaldgmcrae https://t.co/9sjCUh5QQA
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) April 16, 2019
“But it died down, I went to the wedding and played golf the next day. Then the second morning I woke up and couldn’t move. My neck was in spasm. The physios agreed the disc was on the edge of slipping and maybe the hiccup shifted it.
“I didn’t want to release anything,” he continued, explaining why he left the public in the dark over what had happened.
“It was my decision because the medical staff didn’t know how long it would last or what needed to be done. In that window there’s a void and people fill it with gossip. But as long as my family and I, my coaches and teammates, knew exactly what was going on, I was fine.
“In that three-week void, WhatsApp groups flicked them all over the country. Even my friends in London or abroad heard rumours and sent them to me. Steroids, a failed drug test or the injury’s so terrible he’s retiring.
“It’s the right of the player to withhold whatever he wants but I now think there’s a responsibility, especially at Munster where rugby means so much. I know how much the season ticket holders pay, so they deserve to know when players will be back.”
Not since 2008 have the Irish province lifted the European trophy, a void that leaves Murray claiming it would be a big deal to win it now.
“It would be incredible,” he said. “I’ve been lucky with Lions tours and Six Nations wins and I wouldn’t trade them. But winning the European Cup with Munster would be unbelievable. It means the world to me.
“As a young fella, my thing was the Heineken Cup. Wow. I was there with my dad when Munster won it the first time in Cardiff in 2006. And I watched the 2008 final on the big screen in Limerick. There were tens of thousands and I was blown away.
“I also remember going into school after Munster lost semis and finals and people spoke about how they were crying at home. Munster and the European Cup is instilled in you. It means an awful lot here.”
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