Conor Murray has expressed his gratitude at being chosen as the British and Irish Lions’ captain for the tour of South Africa.
Original Lions tour captain Alun Wyn Jones suffered a dislocated shoulder after seven minutes in the game against Japan, and was subsequently ruled out of the tour to South Africa.
Ireland scrum-half Murray will take over as Lions captain in Jones’ absence, something which the 32-year-old admitted he is still coming to terms with.
Meet our new #LionsRugby 2021 Captain – Conor Murray ?
Not the way he would have wanted to become Captain but congratulations to the three time Lions Tourist ?
A proven talent and an excellent leader ? pic.twitter.com/mxtyHOjUj9
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 26, 2021
‘I still don’t have my head around it.’
“We’re very disappointed to lose Alun Wyn. He’s been brilliant for the first two weeks. I’ve known him from the past two Tours and he’s been incredible. It’s a huge loss,” Murray said, via the Lions’ official website.
“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.”
Early changes in the Lions squad.
Conor Murray was a surprise selection for Lions captain, as England captain Owen Farrell and Scotland captain Stuart Hogg are both touring South Africa as well.
The scrum-half has never captained either Munster or Ireland before, but Murray does have plenty of experience with the Lions, having toured Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.
Wales second row Adam Beard has been called up to replace Jones in Warren Gatland’s squad, while Josh Navidi will replace Justin Tipuric, who also suffered an injury in the win against Japan.
The Lions squad will arrive in South Africa today and will play their first game of the tour against Johannesburg-based club side the Lions in Ellis Park on Saturday.