Conor Murray: British and Irish Lions scrum-half surprised to be named captain after Alun Wyn Jones injury

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Conor Murray: British and Irish Lions scrum-half surprised to be named captain after Alun Wyn Jones injury


Conor Murray says it was an ‘incredible honor’ to be named Lions captain

Conor Murray was surprised to be named captain of the British and Irish Lions once Alun Wyn Jones was excluded from the South Africa tour due to a dislocated shoulder.

The Lions are reeling from Jones’ devastating loss after he lasted just seven minutes in Saturday’s 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield.

As the veteran of three previous tours and the world’s most capped international, the decorated Welsh skipper was a talisman for the team and Warren Gatland’s overwhelming choice for the role.

Now in his place is Murray, a general on the pitch who is the favorite to start the Test Series in the scrum half, but a player with no experience captaining for Ireland or his provincial team Munster.

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Highlights of British and Irish Lions’ victory over Japan at Murrayfield

Highlights of British and Irish Lions’ victory over Japan at Murrayfield

It’s a left-wing meeting of Gatland that overlooked more vaunted activists such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Ken Owens.

When asked if he was surprised at his rise to the rank of tour leader, Murray said, “A little to be honest.

“I didn’t even think about it. I knew Al was away and then you look around and there are so many suitors.

“Warren asked me right before the cap ceremony and it was surreal. I still don’t have my head around me, but it’s an incredible honor. This is something I never thought possible.

“I didn’t think about it for long. I said, “Absolutely, it will be a huge honor. Thank you very much for this opportunity ”.

“Then you kind of think about its size and obviously my phone has gone a little bit crazy since it was announced.

Will Greenwood says it's

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Will Greenwood says it’s ‘heartbreaking’ for Alun Wyn Jones, who was kicked out of South Africa tour after dislocating his shoulder

Will Greenwood says it’s ‘heartbreaking’ for Alun Wyn Jones, who was kicked out of South Africa tour after dislocating his shoulder

“I tried calling my girlfriend Joanna, but her phone was on 1% as usual. My dad is in Edinburgh, he was with his friends having a few drinks, so he was the first person I spoke to.

“My mom is in Kerry and I called her. She’s with some friends who were watching the Japan game and they’re partying too, so it still hasn’t penetrated to be honest. “

Jones’ cruel misfortune deprived the Lions of a wealth of experience, but Murray also toured the Test Block, racking up 89 caps for Ireland and five more for the British and Irish rugby elite.

The 32-year-old was the starting scrum half for all three matches against New Zealand in 2017 and offers excellent game handling and precise kicking.

Lions face South African Lions in their first round on Saturday

Lions face South African Lions in their first round on Saturday

“We are very disappointed to lose Alun Wyn,” said Murray. “He was brilliant for the first two weeks. I’ve known him from the last two tours and he’s been amazing. It is a huge loss.

“He came up to me and said ‘congratulations and be yourself’ and I think that’s really important. Growing up, you probably thought that you had to try to be a certain type of person to be a leader, but you just have to be yourself.

“Once you have respect for the group around you, that’s a huge plus, a huge thing that can calm you down a bit.

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“If you guys have respect and do what you do and do it honestly, then you should be fine.

“It’s a huge honor, but there is such a great group of leaders on this team that makes it less intimidating, definitely. There are guys you can lean on, guys who’ve been captains of their country.

“There is a huge experience there so you know it will definitely be a group affair. I’m going to take this and lean on these boys again. It will take a little getting used to, but it’s such an honor. “

The most urgent task for the Lions is to get Adam Beard and Josh Navidi into their squad as quickly as possible.

Beard is the unexpected pick as Jones’ replacement and Navidi replaces Justin Tipuric, whose tour is also over due to a shoulder injury suffered during all five tries against a disappointing Japan.

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