Advertisement

Share this article


Conor Murray has expressed his surprise and pride at being asked to captain the British and Irish Lions on the Tour of South Africa.

The 32-year-old Munster scrum-half was made skipper after Alun Wyn Jones dislocated his shoulder in the win over Japan at Murrayfield, an injury which ended the Welshman's tour.

Justin Tipuric will also not travel after picking up a shoulder injury in the warm-up game.

Coach Warren Gatland called up Adam Beard and Josh Navidi to fly to Johannesburg. It's believed Ireland and Leinster second row James Ryan picked up an injury in training this week and that put him out of consideration for a call up.

Limerick native Murray has spoken of his shock at being asked by Gatland to be captain.

“Warren asked me just before the cap ceremony and it was surreal. I still don't have my head around it, but it's something that is an unbelievable honour, it's something that I never thought would be possible. 

“What kind of puts me at ease is that we've such a good leadership group that it means I can continue being myself. There’ll be a little bit more responsibility, but I don't think it should change anything around the camp. I think that's one of the most important things - that I remain myself, and I assume that's why Warren asked me to do it.”

Naturally, the announcement has drawn significant attention back home, and Murray knew it was a responsibility he had to take immediately before telling his loved ones the news.

“I didn't think about long. I said, ‘absolutely, it'll be it'll be a massive honour thank you very much for this opportunity’. So, no. Then you kind of think about how big it is and then obviously my phone has gone a bit crazy since it was announced. 

"I tried to call my girlfriend Joanna, but her phone was on one percent as usual. Her phone was off, so my dad is in Edinburgh, he was out with his friends having a few drinks and so he was the first person. My mum's in Kerry and I rang her, she's down with a few friends who were watching today’s game and they're celebrating too, so it still hasn't sunk in to be honest.”

Murray started all three British and Irish Lions tests against New Zealand in 2017 and he feels he has the experience to lead a squad of 37 as they attempt to beat the world champions.

“I think you got to definitely understand how we're trying to play, what we're trying to do on the pitch, that's the most important thing. I think your messaging has to be well thought out, you know, I think, in my career I suppose when I do speak it's thought out. You know, it might not be that often, but it's definitely has meaning and there’s thought behind it, and a genuineness to it.

“When you’re a Lion, you realise who you're playing for, what you’re trying to achieve as a player and who you want to make proud. That's what I've learned from team talks in Lions changing rooms and Ireland changing rooms and Munster changing rooms. I've been lucky enough to experience a lot of leaders and they always bring it back to who you're trying to make proud and what you're actually here for. I think driving that message is important.”

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.

Off The Ball 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 


Share this article


You might like

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up on queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

The Sound of the City with And...

The Sound of the City with Andy Clarke

12:00-16:00

Share

Up next

The Sound of the City with Kar...

The Sound of the City with Karl Dawson

16:00-19:00

Share

98FM Throwback Anthems with Ba...

98FM Throwback Anthems with Barry Dunne

19:00-22:00

Share

98FM Dance

98FM Dance

22:00-00:00

Share

The Sound of the City at Night

The Sound of the City at Night

00:00-06:00

Share

The Sound of the City with Bre...

The Sound of the City with Brendan Roache

06:00-09:00

Share

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

09:00-12:00

Share

The Sound of the City with And...

The Sound of the City with Andy Clarke

12:00-16:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on