TRADITION has it that the Lions captaincy goes to someone who is guaranteed his place in the Test team. But that tradition is as honoured in the breach as in the observance, and Conor Murray, for one, believes there is no way he can take the No 9 jersey for granted.
Ireland scrum-half Murray was appointed captain on Saturday night after Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out of the tour to South Africa because of a dislocated shoulder. His competitors for a starting place in the three-Test series against the Springboks are Ali Price of Scotland and Wales’s Gareth Davies, and yesterday[Tues] he insisted that the honour of being named skipper did not imply he would be sure of taking precedence over those two.
“It doesn’t mean it for a minute,” he said. “I think that’s completely separate. We’ve seen it before on Lions tours where captains haven’t started.
“Not for a second do I think that’s a given. If anything, you want to really make sure you’re on top of your game and you’re playing as good as you can possibly play.”
Asked how well he was working with Price and Davies, Murray said they were collaborating very well. However, he believes it is only natural that the rivalry will heat up as the three-Test series gets nearer, not only in his own position but throughout the group.
“It’s been brilliant so far. I’ve played against Ali a good few times and I know Gareth from the last tour. There’s a huge respect there between the three of us.
“We’ve been really open with each other in terms of calls. Maybe calls we use with our clubs and our countries, kind of being open enough to share them. I think that’s really important.
“And staying behind doing a few extras with each other. I think we’re all gunning to play in the big games, but we’re all trying to make each other better and push each other along. I think that’s going to be good for the squad.
“Everyone understands that we need to help each other as much as we can. We don’t want to be holding things back that might help the squad.
“It’s been great so far. I’m sure once we get closer to the big games it will heat up – but that’s what you want. You don’t want it too laid back around each other.”