Noel Murphy

Noel Murphy

Two tours, eight Tests

Two tours, eight Tests

(1959: 4 Tests; 1966: 4 Tests)
Coach: 1980

Noel Murphy's success as a Lion was both instant and enduring. He played his first Test for the tourists as a 22-year-old in 1959, returned to New Zealand and Australia as one of the squad's senior figures in 1966 and ultimately coached the side in South Africa in 1980.

On his first tour, the all-action Irishman was the sort of openside flanker New Zealanders admired: a scourge of opposing half-backs, physically hard, mentally tough and a powerful tackler.

His previous existence as a schoolboy scrum-half had also equipped him with a sharp pair of hands and an eye for an opening. He scored five tries in his 18 matches in New Zealand and Australia, as well as a hat-trick against Canada on the way home.

A broken collar-bone cost him a place on the 1962 tour to South Africa , and when he made his second tour to New Zealand, in 1966, Murphy was now a specialist on the blindside of the scrum.

He was just as effective as he had been at openside, with his strength and robust tackling to the fore, although even his commitment and energy could not stem the mighty All Black tide that swamped the Lions that year.

Although the captaincy passed to Wales outside half David Watkins when Mike Campbell-Lamerton dropped himself from the Test side, the Lions of 1966 still relied on Murphy's direction up front to a significant degree.

"It didn't matter whether he was captain or not," said Ireland and Lions team-mate Ray McLoughlin of the Corkman nicknamed 'Noisy', "he wouldn't shut up."

Murphy's motivational qualities and tactical awareness led him into coaching after he made his final appearance for his country in 1969. And after coaching Ireland during the late 1970s, he took the reins of the Lions in South Africa in 1980.

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