Erasmus: Murray peaks at the right time
NEWS: Munster coach Rassie Erasmus believes Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray is approaching the peak of his powers in perfect time for the Six Nations.
Murray was nominated for Six Nations Player of the Year in 2016 and backed up an impressive campaign with a number of noteworthy performances in the summer.
And the 27-year-old has continued his fine form with Munster helping them to the top of their European Rugby Champions Cup group with two games to play and second in the PRO12.
The Munster man made his Six Nations debut against Wales in 2012 and scored three tries in The Championship last year.
And Erasmus, who met Murray and Keith Earls in South Africa prior to starting at Thomond Park, admitted it is a privilege to coach a player of Murray's pedigree.
"For sheer potential and commitment and professionalism and size and speed and courage, I think he is right at his prime," he said.
"Apart from the normal things that everybody sees, a great pass and a great box-kick, I think he's a very physical player and I didn't expect that when I came here
"Most of those talented guys seem to hold the nice stuff well but he also seems to do the grafting stuff, the tackles, the breakdown ball, carrying and tackling big forwards.
"The physical side of things definitely impressed me.
"On and off the field for us, he's a leader, and it's a privilege to coach a guy like him.
"For the last seven or eight months, I haven't focused on Australian or New Zealand teams, I can only compare Conor with guys I have coached before like Fourie du Preez and those kind of players and I think he'll be right up there with them."
Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against Ireland at BT Murrayfield on February 4 before travelling to Italy in Round Two a week later.