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Sitting in the shade away from the beating Portuguese sun, Conor Murray sips on a protein shake and considers the prospect of kicking off his season against England in Twickenham.
Normally, players get to start their seasons in the relative obscurity of pre-season friendlies or early PRO14 games away from the spotlight.
Every four years, things take a turn and they are expected to hit the ground running on a bigger stage.
It may be August and there may not be any tangible rewards on the line with the big prize on the horizon, but playing England is playing England.
And, when your last outing against the auld enemy ended in a humiliating defeat there is an even more pressing need to hit the ground running. And, while Murray is not dwelling on a disappointing Six Nations that saw Ireland start with a heavy loss to England and end with a poor performance in defeat to Grand Slam winners Wales, he says they hope to have learnt from the experience.
“It’s our first outing since then for a good few of us, last weekend was the chance for other lads to right a few wrongs,” says Murray.
“It’s not a motivating factor
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