Gloucester Rugby: Murphy determined to stake his claim
REVITALISED Dan Murphy is relishing being a part of Gloucester's interchangeable front-row ranks.
Restricted appearances in the first half of last season stunted the 26-year-old's first year at Kingsholm after his London Irish switch.
The loosehead prop has admitted to some frustrating scenarios last term – so he is relieved to be in the midst of an entirely different set-up this time around.
Murphy, Darren Dawidiuk and Shaun Knight clambered off the bench in the final quarter of Saturday's Worcester clash, winning the last-gasp scrum penalty that allowed Freddie Burns to seal the 16-16 draw.
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Murphy said trust from the coaches in the strength of the squad is building belief among all Gloucester's players – and he expects that to keep paying dividend.
Keen for a lengthy starting shirt tussle with Nick Wood, Murphy explained: "It is great knowing you will get a bit of time no matter what the situation.
"It's ideal to be able to get out there and do what we know we can do.
"It's good for the rest of the team as well, to know that whoever comes on the same job will get done, and it doesn't matter which of us are on the field at what point.
"If it's the starting three or the replacements, it's going to be the same result.
"It's great being in that situation. There were times last year when I was frustrated but the times come around now where I've got more opportunity and that's great.
"I went away and put a lot of work in at the end of last season, and I think that's helped.
"I looked at my scrummaging, worked on a couple of things, and did some strength work in the gym with Paddy (Anson), and hopefully it's paying off.
"We've taken on a lot of the things that John Brain did with us last year.
"After he passed away we had to find someone to take that forward with us, because everything he did with us worked, and worked very well.
"Tony Windo has come in and picked up where John left off, and it shows.
"Whatever front-row is on the pitch at the moment, it doesn't really matter, and that's great for the squad, and for us as front-rowers."
Excited to be battling testimonial man Wood for Gloucester's number one shirt, Murphy admitted there are few more demanding challenges.
He continued: "You always want to start, no one wants to sit on the bench.
"And that's my overall goal, the same as everyone else's.
"Woody's a great player and he shows that consistently.
"But that just makes it an even more exciting challenge – it's a huge hurdle but hopefully I'm pushing him pretty hard at the moment.
"It's good for me and I think it's probably good for him too, everyone in the front-row is competing very hard against each other, and that ought to improve us all as players.
"When players are rotated rather than having clear first and second choices, everyone knows they have to work extremely hard for time on the field.
"You can't rest on your laurels, otherwise someone else will step in."
Gloucester host Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 3.15pm), with the Londoners fresh from a 43-14 hiding of London Irish.
Murphy reckons Wasps will still be buoyant from the news of a successful club takeover that eases much financial and structural uncertainty.
But he said Gloucester must discount that, and pull their game together to get back to winning ways at home, following their 24-19 opening-day defeat to Northampton.
"Last week was almost a celebration game, with their new ownership sorted and putting 40 points on London Irish," he said.
"But that's gone now. There's four points we need on the line at Kingsholm, especially after our draw at Worcester.
"Gloucester have always had a good drive and a big scrum, and hopefully we're coming back to that.
"As long as we keep working hard, hopefully we can keep going from strength to strength.
"We've backed up our scrummaging performances so far, but we've got to work very hard to keep that going.
"The technical side of set-piece work means you can't just think you've cracked it.
"You've got to drive home the detail elements every week, otherwise you won't keep progressing."