"Deserves England Debut" Harlequins Star Close to Finishing Top of Premiership's Try-Scoring Charts - Ruck

“Deserves England Debut” Harlequins Star Close to Finishing Top of Premiership’s Try-Scoring Charts

Harlequins winger Cadan Murley has had an outstanding season at the Twickenham Stoop, and has certainly put himself in contention for an England debut. Harlequins take on Leicester Tigers in their final Gallagher Premiership match this weekend, with the 23-year-old currently topping the try-scoring charts, with 14 scores this season.

Try Celebrations for Cadan Murley of Harlequins as he goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park on 25th September 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The timing could not have been better for Murley, as the 23-year-old looks to close out the regular season on top, ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Murley narrowly missed out on the top spot last season, and with Newcastle Falcons’ Matteo Carreras breathing down his neck with 13 tries, the Harlequin aims to solidify top spot with a few more tries at Welford Road.

“I just got pipped last year by Max (Max Malins), so that’s definitely something that I want to get a hold of at some point. Like you said, you can’t force it, you can’t go out of shape to try and force it, you’ve just got to back that the team are going to do their job, and hopefully get the ball to me. But yeah, I definitely will be sniffing in and around this weekend.”

Cadan Murley of Harlequins goes over for a Try during the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons at Twickenham Stoop, London on the 4th March 2022 – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

“I think if you watch Quins play, I don’t think we have much conservatism or pragmatism anyway. But we’ll just be playing our usual way, and I’ll be looking to get off the likes of Marcus (Smith) and Dommers (Alex Dombrandt), and feed of them. As you saw last weekend, or when we played at Big Summer Kick-Off, if you get in and around them, there’ll be line breaks, there’ll be little chances for offloads.

“I don’t think much changes. I think obviously it does help that we’ve got a little bit of freedom, as we’re not playing to secure a place in the top four. We are gutted about that, but like I said, this is a chance to hopefully get that whole team performance, but hopefully grab a couple of tries as well.”

TRY! Cadan Murley of Harlequins scores a try during the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins and Worcester Warriors the Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham, London on Saturday 25th September 2021 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

A source of many ‘try-lights’, Murley’s best photo finish came early on this season. The 23-year-old’s diving try against Northampton Saints in October, after beating three back-peddling defenders along the left wing, certainly got the conversation started for an England call-up. Murley picked that try out as his favourite score of the season, and highlighted additional efforts in the recent London derby.”

“I would probably say that Northampton one. I’ll be honest, I don’t even have a clue as to how I finished that! Instinct takes over I think, but yeah I think was definitely one of my favourites. The one’s at Tottenham (against Saracens) were cool, obviously playing in the new stadium.

The winger is the complete package out wide. Murley couples his turbo-charged pace with a physical presence, and an aggressive mindset that relishes contact. It would then come to no surprise that Murley began his rugby career as a back-row forward, following in the footsteps of his father John Murley, the former Quin and Army rugby captain.

The ex-flanker joked about adding to his try tally, by joining in with Harlequins’ new and improved rolling maul successes.

“I think Jerry (Forwards Coach Jerry Flannery) would kill me, if I came in and nicked the ball off his hookers. But I think we’ll keep playing our same way, and yeah, I’ll definitely be sniffing in and around.”

Cadan Murley of Harlequins goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Saracens and Harlequins at Stone X Stadium on 11 June. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Murley recognises how his combined speed and strength are valuable traits, as he is in no way a ‘one-dimensional winger’. Currently on the fringes of the national team, the exciting Harlequins winger was unfortunate to not have already made his England debut. After being initially named in Steve Borthwick’s squad for the 2023 Six Nations, Murley was amongst one of five uncapped hopefuls, yet was unable to make his mark in a white shirt.

The Harlequins star discussed his personal strengths, and also where he needs to improve, for a spot in Steve Borthwick’s England squad.

“I didn’t move out of the forwards until I was 15 to go to the backs. I signed here (Harlequins) firstly as a 12, moved out to 13, then moved out to the wing. I like to think that I’ve got a few different things about me rather than just being an out-and-out speedster on the wing.”

Ted Hill of Bath Rugby is tackled by Cadan Murley of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Harlequins at the Recreation Ground on 2 December 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“I worked hard on it (speed) last summer. We’ve got a great speed coach in James Wild, and he does a lot of stuff with us. So I just try and focus on that, keeping that high, but also being able to do it repetitively. Because as a winger, you’ve got to do kick-chase quite a lot in the modern game, so being able to do that is a massive string to your bow.”

“Just generally being more dominant in your collisions on the edge (Steve Borthwick’s work-on). The more you can increase that percentage of the dominant collisions, it helps massively with the team, in getting the line set and going again. Obviously I’d like to back myself one-on-one against someone, so if you can get defensively above your opposite man, that would massively help.

Harlequins player Cadan Murley attacks Leicester Tigers player George Ford during the Gallagher Premiership rugby game between Leicester Tigers and Harlequins at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Dec 5th – PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

“And then the ariel work, I moved out (to the wing) a bit later, so that’s one thing I’ve been working on massively. Defensively, and in attack, when going and getting the ball back. Because, in the end, the international game, there is a bit more kicking than before, so they’re probably the main two things that I’m going to work on.”

Harlequins Attack Coach Nic Evans has been an integral part to Murley’s try-scoring success this season. Like Murley, Evans took some time away with England, as he was added to Steve Borthwick’s coaching staff for the 2023 Six Nations. Murley echoed Marcus Smith’s recent comments, as to how Evans had improved as a coach with his time away with England, and how that has taken him to topping the try-scoring charts this campaign.

“For a start, I think it just gave him a bit more confidence in his ability. He’s always been a brilliant coach, I just think this gave him that step out of his comfort zone, like I said, the England environment. I think it put him under a bit of pressure, but then he relished it, took it on, came back, and he was a lot more confident in the way he spoke. Backing his ideas and explaining everything as well, because there is so much detail at international level compared to club level. I feel like the way he brought that back was brilliant.

“You obviously know the way he used to play for Quins. He wants us to be ‘heads up rugby’, expansive. He always had wanted to be that, but just adding those little layers of detail in as well. You saw a couple of our tries against Bath, where we were playing through our shape and scoring through our shape a bit more.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 16: Nick Evans of Harlequins dives in to score a try during the Aviva Premiership match between Harlequins and Wasps at Twickenham Stoop on October 16, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

“The forwards were ‘finding their threes’, there. So I think, credit to him, the detail he’s put on it, and the way he’s helped developed our forwards has been brilliant. That’s why I’m reaping the rewards by scoring on the edge, because their holding all the boys on the inside.”

After a sub-par season by their standards, Harlequins have finished seventh in the Gallagher Premiership. After missing out on the play-offs, Quins close out their season against Leicester Tigers with Murley excited for a re-union with his harsh-teaching Harlequins’ mentor, Mike Brown.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Mike Brown of Harlequins kicks the ball upfield during the Aviva Premiership match between Harlequins and Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium on December 27, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“Browny was massive for me especially. Coming in, I was lucky to start playing when I was pretty young, 18, 19. So, I was very much under his wing, and I have definitely taken a few lessons from him. He’s definitely lost his head with me a couple of times, but that’s how you learn!

“I think, these days sometimes the youngsters are afraid of that type of feedback. But that definitely helped grow and mould and shape me as a rugby player. There are definitely things that I got wrong in my first few games, that I would never do again because of the way he spoke to me!

Cadan Murley of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Harlequins at the Recreation Ground on 2 December 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“But, that’s how you learn. But yeah, he’s been brilliant to a lot of the youngsters, myself. I know Lennox (Anyanwu) is a big fan of his, they both lived out the Esher way, so they’ve got quite close, and then you’ve got Louis Lynagh (there as well). So yeah, he was definitely a massive help for us, improving our back-field positioning, he’s the best in the world under the high ball, well he’s up there, top three definitely. So learning off him that way was a massive help.”

Always ready to rise to the big occasion, Murley plays with the confidence of a veteran far beyond his years. A firm fan favourite at the Stoop, the winger has already caught Borthwick’s attention, and could certainly be called in to reinforce the England squads back line. The Rugby World Cup is a marathon, and with Murley’s impressive abilities at the sprint, he should be included in Borthwick’s plans in some capacity come September.

Cadan Murley of Harlequins greets supporters after the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons at Twickenham Stoop, London on the 4th March 2022 – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Expect the young Harlequins winger to make his debut during the upcoming Rugby World Cup Warm-Up matches, and shake off any international nerves. Getting this experience in a ‘friendly’ environment can benefit Murley, as he hopes to book his place on the squad list for France.