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Lions skipper Murray planned biggest team talk of his life in Covid quarantine

LIONS captain Conor Murray says he has already planned the biggest team talk of his life ahead of his first start in South Africa.

Murray spent three days in Covid quarantine last week – during which he nailed down his debut rallying call to his teammates.

Conor Murray finally gets his first Lions start as tour skipper in South Africa
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On Wednesday, Murray will finally address the tourists before kick-off against South Africa A in Cape Town.

The Ireland scrum-half forms a potential Test match partnership with fly-half Dan Biggar.

Though there are fears over Owen Farrell’s fitness as he doesn’t make the bench.

Though after spending half of last week locked up in Johannesburg, Murray knows exactly what he will say before the big game.

Murray said: “I’m sure it will be well-thought out. It would be a massive moment. A really really proud moment.

“The lads that have done it so far have hit the nail on the head and I am just hoping to do the same.

“I’ve seen Hoggy and Jamie do it over the last couple of weeks – it was really special for them and it’ll be no different for me.

“It’s a huge honour for me and my family.

“When you get named captain, you think about it, but with the Covid situation and the isolation, it was really uncertain because you didn’t know how long you would be in isolation.

“In my head at that point, you weren’t guaranteed to lead the team out at any stage.

“Any chance you get to put on the shirt and to lead out the team would be a massive moment you would remember forever.

“We won’t take anything for granted because of the situation we are in at the moment. We are very privileged to do what we are able to do.

“To be on a Lions tour and play in a Lions jersey – you try and make the most of it every time you get a chance.

“All going well, everything goes to plan and we get through this Test series and play every game.

“But there is always that risk which we are fully aware of. There is extra impetus because of the pandemic which creates a little bit of uncertainty.”

In the centres the impressive duo of Chris Harris and and Bundee Aki get game time together – with Anthony Watson unleashed as a full-back.

Maro Itoje and Iain Henderson start in the second row and Tom Curry is alongside Josh Navidi and Toby Faletau at the back of the eight.

The front row, which needs to be lethal against the Springboks, is also strong with tighthead Kyle Sinckler, hooker Ken Owens and looshead Wyn Jones.

Boss Warren Gatland added: “We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the series.

The Lions take on South Africa A on Wednesday

“Wednesday’s game against South Africa A will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it.

“We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.

“I think we’ve benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games.

“While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.

“As we move towards the business end of the tour, it’s pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances.

“As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that’s we’re seeing.”

SOUTH AFRICA ‘A’ v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
Wednesday 14 July 2021
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 7pm (BST)

  1. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
  2. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) #846
  3. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
  4. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837
  5. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
  6. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
  7. Conor Murray – captain (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
  8. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
  9. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
  10. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
  11. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
  12. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
  13. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #854
  14. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
  15. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779

Replacements:

  1. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
  2. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
  3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848
  4. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) #852
  5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
  6. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849
  7. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850
  8. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

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