Six Nations: Conor Murray calm before Ireland's Rome opener
|RBS Six Nations: Italy v Ireland|
|Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 7 February Kick-off: 14:30 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live extra, Radio Ulster, the BBC Sport website, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.|
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray says Jonathan Sexton's absence will not heap pressure on him in Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy.
Sexton will miss the game as he ends a stand-down period because of concussion while Murray is set to play after a month out because of a neck injury.
"There's no more pressure than usual," Murray, 25, said of conducting Ireland's tempo in Sexton's absence.
"Other people might say there is but I don't see that."
Murray's ability to run a game in the manner of a fly-half from the nine berth could prove priceless at the Stadio Olimpico, especially in the absence of Racing Metro 10 Sexton.
The Munster scrum-half said he had eased comfortably back into confrontational training, saying there was "no hassle" now over the disc problem that has blighted his last month.
"I just over-extended my neck against Zebre about a month ago," Murray said.
"I maybe could have got back for the two European games but the specialists and doctors advised against it.
"I have done all my contact. I have done bag work, tackled a few of the lads and feel good. I've gotten through that first contact fear if you want to call it that."
Murray says he would be equally happy partnering Leinster's Ian Madigan or his Munster club-mate Ian Keatley, the two fly-halves vying to start in Rome while Sexton completes his 12-week concussion lay-off.
"They have been getting their reps in and doing real well and I have no issue with whoever gets picked."
Forwards coach Simon Easterby confirmed fit-again flanker Sean O'Brien was "in the mix" for selection after his strong showing for Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday.
The abrasive Leinster back-rower has endured two reconstructions on the same shoulder in 14 months, but is now primed for his first Test action since November 2013.
"Sean was good on Friday night, in his own assessment he blew up a little bit and you would do," Easterby said.
"He's a long time out of the game but we all saw what he can be, the competitiveness of the man.
"Certainly having him in the mix for selection is a real positive, especially after losing Chris Henry and Rhys Ruddock after the autumn."