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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Geordan Murphy's column
Geordan Murphy
Geordan Murphy
Ireland full-back

After the longest of build-ups, the World Cup is almost upon us.

We have been pretty much together since the end of June when we headed to Spala in Poland for a week which included twice daily cryotherapy sessions at -130C.

Geordan Murphy in action against Scotland at Murrayfield
Playing the Scots at Murrayfield on the eve of the World Cup inevitably brought back a few nightmare memories of my broken leg four years ago

We then had a week back at our clubs but since then, apart from a few weekends at home, we have been in camp with Ireland.

We have seen a few airports but, in fairness, the moving around has probably helped to keep a bit of variety and reduced the chance of any creeping boredom.

Spala was probably a good place to kick off the preparations.

It is a pretty rural, quiet spot, so it was an optimal training environment.

The cryotherapy uses extremely cold temperatures to improve physical recovery.

While you are doing it you get down to about -130C for about two or three minutes.

You do not really feel pain - in fact it almost feels as though you are getting a bit burned, rather than experiencing any feeling of extreme cold.

After further training stints in Limerick and Dublin, we headed over to Scotland for the warm-up game.

There was a fair bit of media chat before the Murrayfield match suggesting I was in danger of missing the cut for the World Cup.

Granted, there are a lot of good players available to Ireland nowadays and there is always a danger of not getting selected, but I was not overly worried about it.

I was happy to be selected for the Scotland game at full-back after playing there against Argentina in the summer.

My build-up to the Argentina tour had been a bit disjointed after the European Cup final so I was pleased to get the chance in the number 15 shirt again.

Playing the Scots at Murrayfield on the eve of the World Cup inevitably brought back a few nightmare memories of my broken leg four years ago which ruled me of the 2003 tournament.

I was bemused by the accounts of the Bayonne match which portrayed it as an out-and-out war

And while it was disappointing to lose in Scotland, I was happy to be in one piece after the game.

Then it was on to Bayonne, where Brian O'Driscoll was punched in the face and received the injury which means he will miss our first game in France.

His injury made all the headlines and there is no point in hiding the fact that we were all a bit worried when we headed to bed that night.

Thankfully the news was more positive the next morning, when we heard that he was only going to be out for a few weeks.

However, while Brian did take a fairly hefty thump, I was a bit bemused by some of the accounts of the match which portrayed it as an out-and-out war.

It was a bit dirtier than your average game but it was the kind of physical encounter which we probably needed at that stage.

Then it was over to Belfast, and while our performance against Italy was disappointing, we had a good week in Belfast on and off the training pitch.

We trained at Campbell College and the facilities were fantastic, while the staff at the Culloden Hotel pulled out all the stops for us.

On the Tuesday night, we went out for some grub in Belfast and then headed to the Tennents Vital concert, where The Killers and Kasabian were headlining.

A few of the spectators wanted photographs with us but the majority of the people were there for the music so we were pretty much left to our own devices.

Geordan Murphy is tackled by Italy's Alessandro Troncon at Ravenhill
Ireland claimed a narrow win in their first international at Ravenhill for 53 years

When it came to the game there was a real sense of occasion beforehand, with a senior international taking place at Ravenhill for the first time in 53 years, and we were upset we did not put on a performance.

However, people do not give the Italians credit for being a very good side and they were able to stop us from playing.

We did not get much quick ball and a lot of aspects of our game were not as crisp as hopefully they will be at the World Cup.

The late winning try caused a bit of controversy but I felt the criticism directed at video referee Derek Bevan was over-the-top and ill-informed.

The letter of the law states that if the ball goes straight down and then bounces forward it is not a knock-on.

When the ball was knocked loose it went down, clipped Ronan O'Gara's knee and then bounced forward, so as far as I was concerned it was a try.

We were back in Dublin this week and did some fairly physical work which hopefully will benefit us in France.

It was great to see David Wallace and Stevie Ferris back in full training on Thursday and Drico is now back doing pretty much everything apart from taking contact.

Brian looks sharp and as though he is gagging to get back into it, while Shane Horgan's recovery is coming on well also.

We left the training camp in Dublin on Thursday night and I headed down south to get in some golf with my folks at Seafield in Wexford on Friday.

Hopefully, that was our last weekend off for some time, so it was good to have a bit of craic with our loved ones and a few friends before the countdown started for the game against Namibia on Sunday.

Ireland soundly beat Scots
06 Sep 03 |  Internationals
Ireland 23-20 Italy
24 Aug 07 |  Irish


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