Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Murray ready to roar on Lions tour

Conor Murray is frank about his Lions ambitions
Conor Murray is frank about his Lions ambitions

Conor Murray's acknowledgement of his desire to be included in Warren Gatland's Lions squad is refreshing.

All too often players will coyly bat away questions surrounding their chances of inclusion in the summer tour to Australia by insisting they haven't thought about the prospect – while frantically assessing the form of their competition in the background.

Murray wants to be a part of the tour. He is honest enough to insist that every player with a realistic chance of travelling is hopeful – "of course it's at the back of your mind and you do check the form of other players" – but he also realises the competition for one of the three scrum-half berths is intense.

"The competition for the scrum-half position is immense," stated Murray (23).

"All the contenders had strong Championships and are in with a good shout of making the squad.

"I've just got to keep playing my game and make sure I'm in the mix when the squad is announced."

Mike Phillips is favoured to start the first Test at least and, while Ben Youngs and his England team-mate Danny Care are favoured by some critics, it would be foolish to dismiss Murray's credentials after a very strong Six Nations.

Murray and Phillips were the only two scrum-halves included on the short-list for the Six Nations player of the tournament – deservingly won by Leigh Halfpenny – and neither English scrum-half showed the consistency of Murray.

"I was quite happy with my own performances in the Six Nations," said Murray. "I think I have taken a step in the right direction with Ireland. I've taken up a bit more of a leadership role.

"During the games I felt I knew when to kick and when to run. I've got to try and bring that back to Munster now and push on.

"I honestly wouldn't know where I am in the pecking order for the Lions, but I'd like to think I am in the mix."

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