Cadan Murley is willing to temporarily suspend his allegiance to Manchester United as he analyses Erling Haaland for clues on how to enhance his own finishing.
The Gallagher Premiership’s most prolific try scorer of last season sees value in looking to other sports for inspiration and identifies Manchester City marksman Haaland as the most insightful player to watch.
Haaland has set a new record for goals scored in a Premier League season with 52 and Murley, the Harlequins wing hoping to make his England debut this summer, admires his instinct for knowing where the chances will fall.
“I’m a United fan and I wish we had Haaland,” Murley told the PA news agency at the launch of Spabreaks.com’s Men’s Health Week campaign ‘Real Men Relax’.
“It’s hard when he scores against us, but as a sportsman, you’ve got to respect everyone out there and what Haaland has done is unbelievable.
“Whenever he’s needed, he’s always there in the right place at the right time. That’s kind of true of me on the rugby pitch as well – a lot of people say my tries are walk-ins, but you’ve got to be there in the right position.
“Haaland is always lurking. He’s a great finisher and a great footballer, but for me it’s his ability to know where to be that stands out.”
Murley’s 15 touch downs last season – he was also second-highest try scorer behind Max Malins in 2021-22 – have put him in contention for World Cup selection and he could win his first cap during the four warm-up Tests.
While possessing a nose for the line and surprising power for a 23-year-old who is 5ft 8in and weighs 15st 2lbs, developing familiarity with his team-mates has been just as instrumental to his consistency as a finisher.
He added: “A lot of it comes down to who you are playing with and if you know them well enough. Do you know what they’re going to do?
“For example, I know that Andre Esterhuizen and Alex Dombrandt will probably make gainline and will look for off-loads, so fishing in and around those two is very good.
“And of course Marcus Smith can pull a crossfield kick out of anywhere. He likes me to be in certain positions on the touchline – if he has a couple of looks and there’s space there then I know he’s going to do that.
“Those relationships are really important, but there are also other things that you need to practise day in day out on the training field.
“Mainly I do one on ones. I’m a bit different to other wingers. I don’t have the best feet out there, but I’m also more powerful than some. So I practise grabbing bigger people and practise finishing drills.
“My power has come from when I played back row when I was younger. I was never the biggest so I’ve always had to punch above my weight.”
Revitalised by a mandatory five-week rest period that included 10 days spent in Marbella, Murley has been selected in England’s first training squad of the summer with clear instructions from head coach Steve Borthwick on what is expected.
“Steve has given general instructions to all the back three. He wants us to be aerially dominant, so he’s asked us to always work on the high ball,” he said.
“The way the international game is going, there is a lot more kick chase, but they want that to be done at as high a speed as possible so we’ve been doing lots of sprint repeats.
“Steve also wants us to be physical – the most physical wingers in the world. One on one you expect the attacker to win, but if you can become dominant in defence then that can give your team an edge.”
:: Cadan Murley was speaking as Spabreaks.com, the UK’s leading spa booking and experience agency, launch their Men’s Health Week campaign “Real Men Relax”, to highlight the benefits of spa to men of all trades and backgrounds. For more information, visit www.spabreaks.com