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'Home' goal for Irish

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England Saxons can be assured of large home support when they run out at Welford Road in February, but Tigers supporters will also be hoping for a representation within the Ireland A ranks.

Jordan Crane, Tom Croft, Ayoola Erinle and Richard Blaze all gained Saxons honours in 2006/07, but Tigers also contributed to the Irish squad with Frank Murphy, Johne Murphy and Ian Humphreys gaining their first call-ups at that level.

For scrum-half Frank the call came at the end of a whirlwind season which began as a third-choice newcomer and ended with appearances in three finals and a Churchill Cup finals day at Twickenham.

"I got the call-up around the time of the Guinness Premiership Final and I was obviously delighted," he says.

Murphy also joined a number of players he left behind in Ireland when he agreed a move from Munster in the summer of 2006.

"One of the great things about rugby has always been playing in a team with your friends and to get the chance to do that at such a high level was amazing," he says.

Frank has also won caps at Schools and U-21 level, and anyone making the step up to the 'A' squad knows they are tantalisingly close to senior international honours.

"It is a great achievement to get to 'A' level and look at the next step up," he says. "That is what it is all about. It is seen as a way of testing players and for coaches to see how they cope under different pressures, against different opposition and with different team-mates.

"You have to prove yourself all over again on that sort of stage to the people that matter at international level."

Now Murphy and his countrymen in the Tigers squad are aiming to play their way into the Ireland A squad for the match against the Saxons at Welford Road on February 1.

"If the Irish guys got in the squad we might have some extra support for the team at Welford Road!" he says. "We all know there is a lot of competition around for places and you have to be playing well to get in there. But to play internationally on your home ground would be excellent."

Tickets for England Saxons versus Ireland A at Welford Road on Friday, February 1 (kick-off 7.45pm) are on sale now. Contact the Tigers ticket office on 08701 23 34 30 or book via the club website.