Conor Murray to lead Lions as Welsh duo called up by Warren Gatland
Gatland has also confirmed that Conor Murray will take over as captain of the tour. The 32-year-old is a veteran of two previous tours, but is certainly a left-field decision for Gatland.
A statement reads: “Jones and Tipuric both sustained Tour-ending shoulder injuries during the Lions 28-10 win over Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium today for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) takes over as Tour captain from Jones.”
Ospreys giant Beard, who is currently on international duty with Wayne Pivac’s Wales, joins despite a pre-tour clamour for the addition of Leinster and Ireland’s James Ryan.
“We’re all incredibly disappointed for Alun Wyn and Justin,” said Gatland. “The timing of these injuries seem particularly cruel given we fly to South Africa tomorrow, but unfortunately they’re part of the game.
Meet our new #LionsRugby 2021 Captain – Conor Murray ?
Not the way he would have wanted to become Captain but congratulations to the three time Lions Tourist ?
A proven talent and an excellent leader ? pic.twitter.com/mxtyHOjUj9
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 26, 2021
“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 27 June. Cowan-Dickie was knocked out in today’s Gallagher Premiership final loss to Harlequins but joins the squad nevertheless.
“His [Alun Wyn Jones’] shoulder dislocated. We’re getting it scanned but it’s looking like we’ll have to replace him,” said Gatland following the warm-up victory over Japan.
“It’s very disappointing. He’s been around rugby long enough but he’ll be gutted. We need to call someone in, get them PCR tested and hopefully get them on the flight tomorrow.
“The decision’s pretty much made. I was speaking to the physios and they’ve spoken to Alun Wyn. He understands the very best case scenario is that he may get back for the Tests.”
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