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Murray keeps a perk despite Jones retaking Lions tour captaincy

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has confirmed that fit-again Alun Wyn Jones has resumed his original role as tour captain, taking the responsibility back off Conor Murray. However, the Irishman has ensured he hasn’t given up all captaincy privileges, Gatland joking that Murray made sure he held onto the hotel suite allocated to the tour captain which he moved into last Sunday when the Lions first arrived in Cape Town before Jones flew in.


Murray was chosen by Gatland on June 26 in Edinburgh to become tour captain after Jones had sustained what was described at the time as a tour-ending shoulder dislocation. It soon emerged, though, that Jones was going to make an attempt to quickly recover and following a full contact training session with Wales on Tuesday, he was recalled by the Lions and flew into Cape Town on Thursday morning.

Gatland stated at a media briefing that he would need to have a discussion with Murray and Jones regarding the tour captaincy and it was after Saturday’s 49-3 win over the Stormers that the Lions boss confirmed the veteran Welsh lock had been restored as skipper but that it guaranteed him nothing when it came to the Test team selection debate for next Saturday’s first Test against the Springboks.

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Ryan Wilson, Simon Zebo and Max Lahiff guest on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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Ryan Wilson, Simon Zebo and Max Lahiff guest on the latest RugbyPass Offload

“Alun Wyn has come back into that (captaincy) role and Conor is comfortable,” explained Gatland at his virtual media conference following the beating of the Stormers. “He stepped in to do it but Alun Wyn was named as tour captain before so it’s brilliant he has come back and Conor is the first to admit that he was more than comfortable for Alun Wyn to come back.

“That is a measure of him as a person as much as anything, but he wasn’t prepared to give up his bedroom suite though. He got the captain’s bedroom suite! But it was easy in terms of that (conversation) and we will see how the preparation goes next week and if Alun Wyn is involved or if he is not involved we will look at potentially who leads the team.”

Jones came off the bench to play 26 minutes against the Stormers just 21 days after he sustained his shoulder dislocation against Japan at Murrayfield. Gatland was pleased to see him back but was giving little away about what his second row selection pecking order was ahead of next weekend’s opening showdown versus the Springboks. “He put a few shots in and defended well, a couple of touches as well. The big thing for him was to get through that period to see how he was afterwards,” enthused Gatland.


“He wasn’t out there a long time and I haven’t really had a chat with him just to see how the lungs were. But I know how hard he has worked the last year or so. He was desperate to make the Lions. He felt in 2017 he wasn’t at his best and he has really been exceptional in the way he has prepared for this tour. It was a shame he picked up that injury, but it is great to have him back.

“We will have that discussion about is there a role for him either as a starter, as a bench player or not involved next week. We have got some options and it has been a brilliant week for us. We got exactly what we wanted in terms of Wednesday knowing what is coming next week. If we hadn’t that South Africa A game or if we had the A team they put out today [Saturday] against the Bulls then we possibly wouldn’t have been as tested as we were on Wednesday. From that point of view, the preparation for next week gives us an insight on what to expect and it will definitely help preparation going into the first Test.”



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