Rugby-Murray relishing responsibility of leading Lions in South Africa

·2-min read
Six Nations Championship - Wales v Ireland

(Reuters) - Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray, who was named British & Irish Lions captain following an injury to Alun Wyn Jones, said it was disappointing to lose their regular skipper but backed himself to shoulder the responsibility on their tour of South Africa.

Jones, who was set to go on his fourth tour, dislocated his shoulder early in Saturday's 28-10 win over Japan while flanker Justin Tipuric was also ruled out. The pair were replaced by Welshmen Adam Beard and Josh Navidi.

The Lions are set for an eight-match tour, including three tests against world champions South Africa from July 3 to Aug. 7.

"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 it was "surreal" when coach Warren Gatland asked him to captain the side. The 32-year-old added that he would work with the likes of England skipper Owen Farrell and Ireland's Robbie Henshaw to ease himself into his new role.

"I still don't have my head around it but it's something that's an unbelievable honour, it's something I never thought would be possible," Murray added.

"What puts me at ease is that we have such a good leadership group that it means I can continue being myself. There will be a bit more responsibility, but I don't think it should change anything around the camp.

"That's one of the most important things - that I remain myself and I assume that's why Warren asked me to do it."

Murray said one of the key qualities needed to succeed as captain was to effectively communicate with the team.

"Your messaging has to be well thought out... In my career I suppose when I do speak it's thought out. It might not be that often but it definitely has meaning and there's thought behind it, and a genuineness to it," he said.

"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 here for. Driving that message is important."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)

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