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The one phone call Hogg plans to make before captaining the Lions

By Liam Heagney

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New Lions matchday skipper Stuart Hogg has revealed the one phone call he will definitely look to make prior to this Saturday’s match versus the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg – a call to injured tour skipper Alun Wyn Jones back in Wales.

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Gallagher Premiership commitments meant that Hogg only linked up with the Lions squad in Edinburgh last Sunday prior to the Lions’ flight to South Africa, by which stage Jones had been ruled out of the tour and had been replaced as captain by Conor Murray. 

However, while Murray has taken over the overall role from Jones, it is Hogg who gets first dibs at the responsibility on a matchday as the Irish scrum-half won’t be involved in the Lions’ first of eight matches in South Africa. 

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It’s a massive transformation for Hogg from the position he found himself in last week, chosen on the bench by Exeter for the Premiership final. A week later, though, not only will he be wearing the Lions No15 jersey, he will also be captaining a starting XV consisting of six English, five Scottish and four Welsh players.   

“I’ll probably pick up the phone to Alun Wyn over the next few days and pick his brains,” said Hogg at a media briefing in Johannesburg after Warren Gatland unveiled the line-up for a game the Lions are expected to win comfortably against the weakest of the South African Rainbow Cup sides.   

“Obviously I was bitterly disappointed for him picking up an injury, but he will have a huge impact on this tour in terms of what he has done over the last few weeks and what he will do moving forwards. He is that type of guy. He is an absolute legend of the game so I will definitely be picking his brains, that is for sure,” added Hogg, going on to acknowledge the strength of the six-strong matchday Scotland contingent he will be captaining.

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“Those individuals have been working incredibly hard on their game for a number of years and we are making a rise as a Scottish national side,” he said in reference to having Chris Harris, Finn Russell, Ali Price and Hamish Watson starting with him and Zander Fagerson covering tighthead from the bench.    

“I’m over the moon to see so many boys representing the Lions here but for us now we are all buying into the British and Irish Lions badge and we have all fitted in really well. We are here to do one job and that is to part of a successful tour… hopefully everybody shines and makes it very difficult for Warren and the rest of the coaches to pick the team.”

Gatland added: “There is always lots of pressure in international rugby at the highest level and you understand that and I don’t think I am any different from the players. When game day comes around I’m as nervous as anything and the thing about international rugby is it’s either agony or ecstasy, there is nothing in between and so hopefully we can get as much ecstasy was can in terms of enjoying the way that we play and getting results.”

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The one phone call Hogg plans to make before captaining the Lions

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