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Limerick's Conor Murray was taken aback when asked by Warren Gatland to be Lions captain, but he is going to enjoy the role.

The 32-year old Munster and Ireland scrum-half will assume the responsibility from Alun Wyn Jones, who dislocated his shoulder in the win over Japan.

Adam Beard and Josh Navidi have been drafted into the squad and will fly to Johannesburg on Sunday. It's believed James Ryan was not considered for a call up after he sustained an injury this week.

Murray says he was surprised when Gatland asked him to lead the Lions.

“Yeah, a little bit to be honest. I didn't even think about it. I knew that Al was out and then you just, you look around the squad and there's so many contenders. It's a huge honour, but there's such a good group of leaders in this squad that it makes it less daunting, definitely. I think there's lads that you can lean on."

When asked specifically who he would use as a sounding board, Murray thought immediately of the England captain.

"I think Owen Farrell. There are lads like Robbie Henshaw who's is a real big defensive leader for us. Lads who have captained their country. There’s massive experience there so you know it'll definitely be a group thing. I’m going to enjoy it and again lean on those boys. It'll take a bit of getting used to, but it's such an honour.” 

Murray says he will also seek advice from former Irish skippers Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Rory Best if needed, but he believes this current bunch of Lions players has enough on its own to take on the Springboks.

“Yeah. I know those three guys. I’m quite close to Rory. I think Rory will be a really good friend of mine, I obviously know Paulie really, really well too and Drico. Yeah if there's something that I’m thinking about saying, or whatever, then there's guys there I'm lucky enough to draw on them if something crops up.

"But, you know, right now in this group, there's such a good buzz. There’s such a tightness already after two weeks and obviously today getting off on a good note with a really good win against a top Japanese side we've grown closer again. So, I think this group is really good and can figure things out on their own for the moment and if things crop up it’s great to have those guys on the phone, as well as the coaches here. To have such experience, it's a big thing.”

Conor Murray and the Lions squad will face their first match in South Africa against the Emirates Lions next Saturday, and there will be live commentary of the game on OTB Sports.

The 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour on OTB Sports with Vodafone. Lead Partner of the British and Irish Lions

Download the British & Irish Lions App, Powered by Vodafone, to stay connected to the Lions this summer


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