The ultimate pro

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder insists Lions prop Euan Murray is behaving like the ultimate professional despite being sidelined through an ankle injury. [more]

The ultimate pro

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder insists Lions prop Euan Murray is behaving like the ultimate professional despite being sidelined through an ankle injury.

The Scotland international was in impressive form on the Lions’ recent tour of South Africa, with many observers tipping him for a Test spot before injury intervened.

Murray was pushing for a place in the matchday squad for the first international when fate struck a cruel blow in the final warm-up game against the Southern Kings.

The 29-year-old damaged his ankle during the 20-8 win in Port Elizabeth and was forced to withdraw from the remainder of the tour.

Murray has since had surgery and is still hobbling around on crushes but his club coach says the setback isn’t preventing him from continuing to have a major impact at Franklin’s Gardens.

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“Euan’s still very much a positive influence,” said Mallinder.

“We see Euan more than we ever did when he was playing, because he lives in the physios’ room!

“He’s a professional who wants to get back as soon as possible and he’ll be doing everything he can to do that. It’s encouraging for us to see that he’s working hard on his rehab and we look forward to having him back.”

Although no return date has yet been set for the former Glasgow star, Mallinder is optimistic that he will be back in action before the end of 2009.

And that return cannot come some enough for Mallinder, who believes his likeable front-row forward was one of the most impressive figures on the Lions’ 10-match tour of the Republic.

“Hopefully, he’ll play this year,” added Mallinder.

“It is a serious injury. I think at the time it didn’t sound that bad but he’s had to have an operation and he’d done just about everything – he’d done his ligaments, he broke a bone. But he’s making really good progress.

“He’s due back before the end of this year, so anytime before that is a bonus to us.

“You miss all your top-class players. Euan was very unlucky not to play a Test for the Lions. I personally think he should have played more before he was injured and that shows what a quality player he is.”

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