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Conor Murray On How Simon Zebo Almost Blew His Lions Test Match Chances

Conor Murray Simon Zebo

British and Irish Lions tours are famous for fines. 

Players will often have to succumb to a ‘forfeit’ if they are caught breaking a rule or producing any on-field shenanigans.

One of the most famous examples, of course, is Simon Zebo’s fine on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia. On that occasion, Zebo’s fine or forfeit was to ring up then newly installed Munster head coach Rob Penney and tell the New Zealander why he wanted to be captain of the southern province.

The reason Zebo was subject to a fine was due to what he did to Conor Murray in a midweek game against the Melbourne Rebels just a few days before the second Test with Australia.

Murray was speaking to Brian O’Driscoll on BT Sport’s Lions Call series and the Limerick man revealed how Zebo’s prank almost damaged his chances of making the Test team that weekend.

“It was so like Zeebs to do something like that,” Murray told O’Driscoll for BT Sport’s Lions Call series.

Conor Murray Simon Zebo

“The story behind it was that we were playing Melbourne Rebels in the midweek game with a legitimate chance to make the Test squad.

“I remember being at the bottom of a ruck very close to half-time and I wasn’t aware of the clock. As I was getting up off the ruck, another ruck had formed.

“I just heard Zeebs, ‘Kick it out, kick it out, it’s half-time’. And then I kick it out backwards almost, pretty much straight or backwards and I started jogging towards the tunnel on the far side. I’ll never forget the referee whistled and pointed that the lineout would take place. I was looking for Zeebs, he was playing fullback in the backfield and he was breaking himself laughing!

Conor Murray Simon Zebo

“To pull a prank like that in such a big [game]…I ended up making the Test squad that week because Mike [Philiips] was injured. If it was any tighter or Mike wasn’t injured, that was my chance gone out the window.

“[And then] the dice roll was incredible.”

Despite Zebo’s prank, Murray would go on to make the bench in the second Test as he came on as a 53rd-minute replacement for Ben Youngs. The Limerick man kept his spot on the bench for the third Test, this time coming on in the second-half for Mike Phillips who returned from injury.

As we all know, Murray would then go on to become one of the most consistent scrum-halves in the world and in the 2017 tour of New Zealand, he started every Test match against the All Blacks.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter