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Houston's Ronan Murphy Talks Sabercats' Unbeaten Start

March 28, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Houston SaberCats News Release

Heading into Week Five of the 2024 Major League Rugby season, the Houston SaberCats are the only unbeaten team in the competition.

Last time out, the team stunned the Seattle Seawolves 42-40 at the Starfire Sports Complex in a massive Western Conference clash.

Houston blew Seattle away to lead 23-8 at the break in Washington. Former Seawolves playmaker AJ Alatimu scored 15 of his team's points and helped to win the Team of the Week nod.

A first-ever win away at Seattle, Houston has made certain they are the team to beat after four rounds of fixtures.

"We don't want to underestimate any opponents," Murphy said.

"AJ Alatimu came from Seattle, and we had never beaten them at their home, so it was definitely circled on a couple of the guys' calendars.

"We wanted to make sure we were up for that game. Winning that one definitely felt good.

"The boys that have played high-level rugby all week were saying it was going to be like a test match rugby.

"It was physical, back and forth; everything you were hoping for from a big game. We were just happy to come out on top."


Starting the 2024 season unbeaten has been an impressive show of force for Houston.

Murphy was among several new arrivals at SaberCats Stadium, all of whom were recruited to help push the side to new heights.

Since Heyneke Meyer's arrival as Director of Rugby and Pote Human's arrival as head coach in 2022, the team has reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons.

Hosting the West Conference Final in 2022 and losing the West Conference Eliminator a year later, this time around, the SaberCats are aiming for the Championship Final.

"Going 4-0 has been ideal," Murphy said. "We are off to a good start, looking to close out this block and go into the bye week 5-0.

"We can't really complain about the start. Obviously, there are things we need to get better at every week.

"Every week in the film room, we are talking about all the things that we could improve on.

"It is a good showing of culture and the expectations of the guys, because sometimes it is like we lost with the way the guys are breaking down the film."

When it comes to culture, Houston's is based on continually getting better.

There is competition for the position throughout the squad, with Murphy regularly competing with Keni Nasoqeqe, Gideon van Wyk, and Emmanuel Albert for a position in the side.

Having started all the SaberCats' matches so far this season, Murphy was one of his team's try scorers last time out as they beat the Seawolves.

He is already proving himself to be invaluable to a side stacked with talent.

Despite being unbeaten, Houston seems not yet satisfied with their performances, a frightening prospect for their next opponent.

"All the guys hold themselves to high standards on the team," he said.

"That is one of the things we have tried to push for this season, and that is one of the reasons we are having some success early on.

"We are holding standards high in games and practices and trying to keep each other accountable, not just be satisfied with the Ws, but wanting to put our best performance out each week."


Next up for the SaberCats is a trip to the Dallas Jackals.

Facing their Texan rivals at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, this will be their final outing before a bye week, during which Murphy and his teammates will take some time to reflect on what they have learned in their first five games of the season.

Dallas comes into the fixture fresh from a 35-22 defeat against the NOLA Gold in their own backyard.

With the opportunity to enter their bye week unbeaten, Murphy is hopeful that a positive result this Friday night will send a statement to the league.

"It would be huge for us," Murphy said. "Watching some of the games around the league this year, it is kind of wide open.

"There is no clear favorite. It is tight. To go 5-0 would stamp Houston as the team not here to be second best."


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