Conor Murray named Lions captain after Alun Wyn Jones ruled out

Justin Tipuric also ruled out with Welsh duo Adam Beard and Josh Navidi called up

Conor Murray celebrates Tadhg Beirne’s   try against Japan at Murrayfield with  Josh Adams and Iain Henderson. Photograph: Inpho

Conor Murray celebrates Tadhg Beirne’s try against Japan at Murrayfield with Josh Adams and Iain Henderson. Photograph: Inpho

 

Conor Murray has been appointed the Lions captain in place of Alun Wyn Jones after the Welsh lock was ruled out of the tour to South Africa with a dislocated shoulder which he sustained in the 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield.

Murray, the 32-year-old Munster and Irish scrumhalf, who is one of a relative rarity to embark on a third Lions expedition, has been chosen above other candidates such as Owen Farrell despite never having captained Ireland. Indeed Murray has seldom even captained Munster.

However, Murray cut his teeth on the tour to Australia eight years ago and was a hugely significant figure in the drawn Test series in New Zealand.

Murray’s appointment as Lions captain is a huge statement of faith in his on-field performances and leadership abilities, and clearly suggests Warren Gatland and his assistants see Murray as their first-choice scrumhalf again.

He is going to step up to the plate.

Murray’s appointment comes in far from ideal circumstances, and he has some act to replace in Jones. Somewhat disappointingly James Ryan has been ruled out as a lock replacement due to a groin injury sustained in training with the Irish squad last week, with Adam Beard instead being called up.

Josh Navidi has also been called up as a replacement for the unfortunate Justin Tipuric who, like Jones, suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Japan.

“We’re all incredibly disappointed for Alun Wyn and Justin,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

“The timing of these injuries seem particularly cruel given we fly to South Africa tomorrow, but unfortunately they’re part of the game.

“Alun Wyn will obviously be a big loss, both on and off the field, but will be ably replaced by Connor.

“Conor is an outstanding rugby player and is held in the highest regard with both the players and coaches. As a three-time Lions tourist, he knows what will be required as captain and I am certain he will lead the squad with excellence. He will also be well supported by an experienced leadership group.

“We plan for Adam and Josh to join up with the touring party before we depart for South Africa tomorrow evening.”

Exeter Chiefs quartet, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Stuart Hogg, Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds will also link up with the 37-man touring party as planned in Edinburgh on Sunday.

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