Rugby World Cup: Ireland's Murphy looks at distracting Castrogiovanni

Ireland fullback Geordan Murphy has come up with a novel way of dealing with Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni when their teams meet at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.

"I'm thinking of leaving some baskets of chips in the corners," Murphy said Wednesday. "That should do it. The amount he eats, it should distract him quite nicely."

The on-field rivalry will be fierce for the crucial Pool C match at Dunedin's Otago Stadium, but it was just a lighthearted insult from Murphy, who co-owns an Italian restaurant with Castrogiovanni, his Leicester Tigers clubmate.

The banter is flying both ways.

"The closer the game gets, I'm receiving more and more text messages from him," Murphy said. "I had one now just as I was walking through the door. He swears a lot at me in Italian and he's trying to teach me all the bad words.

"I'm not going to repeat them."

With one a burly, wild-haired forward and the other a slim, speedy back, the pair would appear unlikely business partners. But Murphy and Castrogiovanni have become firm friends in the English Premiership despite their countries' regular confrontations on the international stage.

Castrogivanni's Italy has lost 15 straight meetings with Ireland, including every match since the Italians were admitted into an expanded Six Nations in 2000.

The fiery prop is one of the cornerstones of a powerful pack that represents Italy's best hope of forcing something from a match it must win to have any chance of progressing to the World Cup quarterfinals.

But Murphy said his friend is a changed man off the field, unrecognizable from the hulking, passionate force that greets opposition forwards head on.

"He's a good mate of mine," Murphy said. "He's a fantastic prop and he's a different character off the field to he is on it."

But how do the pair work together in the restaurant?

"Look at the shape of both of us," Murphy said. "I tend to drink a lot of water and he tends to eat a lot of the food."

- AP

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