Murray not a left-field selection for Bok coach
REACTION: The appointment of Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray as British and Irish Lions captain may have surprised some pundits.
Murray, 32, was named to take over from injured lock Alun Wyn Jones as tour captain – after the latter was ruled out of the tour of South Africa through a dislocated shoulder he suffered in the 26-10 win over Japan in Edinburgh at the weekend.
England captain Owen Farrell, teammate Maro Itoje, Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg or Wales hooker Ken Owens were among the early candidates to take over from Jones.
However, B&I Lions coach Warren Gatland has opted for Murray, who started against Japan and is a veteran of 89 caps with Ireland and two previous Lions tours.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus know Murray very well from their stint with Irish province Munster in 2016 and 2017.
Erasmus, who told an online media briefing on Sunday that injuries are always part of the game, felt Murray will do the job for the tourists.
“I feel sorry for Alun Wyn Jones,” Erasmus said, adding that the lock’s absence will be a big loss.
“Connor Murray, we know him well.
“He is a player that can do the job for them,” said Erasmus.
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Nienaber was also lavish with his praise for the new B&I Lions skipper.
“I enjoyed working with Conor [Murray] ,” Nienaber said about their time at Munster.
“He’s a no-nonsense guy, to the point.
“He gets the job done and he is brilliant at what he does.
“It was a privilege working with him.
“I can’t talk for Warren [Gatland, British & Irish Lions coach], but what we have seen in him is a steady head.
” He has a good skillset and I think he will make a great tour captain.”