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Springbok coaches offer verdict on Conor Murray getting the Lions captaincy

By Sam Smith
(Photo / INPHO /Dan Sheridan)

The appointment of Irish halfback Conor Murray as captain of the British & Irish Lions is a familiar one for Springbok head coach and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, who both worked closely with Murray at Munster.


Under the South African coaches, Munster employed a typical hard-nosed approach to the game with Murray’s box kicking a vital cog in a pressure defence game plan. Murray’s former coaches were not restrained in their praise for their former scrumhalf.

“I enjoyed working with Conor,” head coach Jacques Nienaber told media after hearing of the appointment, “He’s a no-nonsense guy, in terms of being to the point, he just gets the job done.

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Rassie Erasmus talks of Covid positive players
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Rassie Erasmus talks of Covid positive players

“He’s brilliant at what he does. It was a privilege working with him.

Nienaber believes that losing Murray to injury was a big reason why their European hopes in 2017 were dashed, when Munster fell to Saracens without their star number 9.

“We lost him at the backend of our season in 2017 when we played in our semi-final against Saracens. He was a big loss, we felt it when he wasn’t there.

“I can’t talk for them, but what you see in that guy is a steady head, he’s got a good skillset, people enjoy him. I think he’s a great Tour captain.”


Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus didn’t have anything to add, agreeing with his new head coach.

“I don’t really have anything to add there, Jacques summed it up,” he said.

“It is interesting the whole thing, there are so many guys that we were involved with, 0r coached, or even Tadhg Beirne who was drafted in late, we actually signed him before we got to Munster.

“It is going to be so interesting, if you look at all those players.


“We feel bad for Alun Wyn, but I remember he also came back from injury [for Ospreys] when we starting coaching Munster. The difference he made in that team there, he will definitely be a loss.

“But all the other guys, there’s Itoje, there is so many other leaders, we know we are in for a tough one.”

On what he made of the Lions first up win over Japan, Erasmus was impressed with how quickly they put it altogether.

“Japan was a side we struggled to beat, I think they got rhythm quite quickly,” he said.

“But they will build up, and we will see how they do against the Lions next week.”



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