Michael Murphy's eyes were opened by the gym work he did playing rugby in France 2 years ago

Michael Murphy's eyes were opened by the gym work he did playing rugby in France

"They're so in tune to their bodies. They know how to prepare themselves."

Michael Murphy spent just the week with Clermont Auvergne and he soaked up every single experience.

The Donegal forward was in the South of France with the Top 14 rugby giants as part AIB GAA's #TheToughest Trade and he came home with a heap of learnings. The first instalment of the show launches tonight, March 1 at 9.30pm on RTÉ 2 and will also feature Shane Williams taking on Gaelic football with Murphy's club, Glenswilly.

We caught up with both men ahead of the show's first airing and found they had a greater appreciation of each other's sport. Williams declared:

"I couldn't get over the amount of running you had to do in training."

For Murphy, the running wasn't a bother. The professional rugby workload and increased gym and video analysis work was an eye-opener. So was just about every dealing he had with Clermont [and soon-to-be Ulster] coach Jono Gibbes...

While Williams noticed a large emphasis on running, and having the gas to motor around large GAA pitches, Murphy was taken aback by the gym work... slightly! He says:

"There's probably a big emphasis on gym sessions, they're doing one every day or other day. They really go at it as a session.

"Here in Gaelic Games, the gym session is probably supplementing what you do on the pitch. There, it's every single bit as important as their training field day.

"Big boys, just perfect techniques in everything they do. Very specific to the actual individual. The backs, the way they do their own gym. The forwards, the way they do their own gym. And even within that, it's specific to their strengths and weaknesses.

"The body exercises that you do are very similar. I was kind of surprised in that way, you're not a huge million miles away from what they do. Again it's a professional set-up and the amount more time they do, they're able to go that wee bit more specific to what the player needs."

The other big difference Murphy observed was how much time and preparation goes into playing a professional rugby match, as opposed to rocking up from work, college or home just before a GAA training session.

"They're so in tune to their bodies. They know how to prepare themselves, to get themselves ready an hour before the training. Doing whatever strapping they need to do, whatever exercise they need to do and when they go to the training ground, they are ready to go.

"Whereas back here, like with me now I'll be up the road, you get out of the car, everything is done within 10 minutes, you get out on to the training ground and that was the big difference.

"It's cliched to say there's less recovery in Gaelic football but to actually experience it over there in a week, that was a big thing."

Murphy was in fine form for Donegal against Dublin at the weekend so whatever extras he picked up from the rugby boys must be helping.