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Relieved Murray now sharing with Rory instead of key rival

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Conor Murray at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong

Conor Murray at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong

INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Conor Murray at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong

Conor Murray is happy to have a new room-mate in Rory Best since the Lions touched down in Hong Kong. When the Lions met up in London he was sharing with Wales' Mike Phillips – a direct rival for a place in the Lions' test team.

Murray good-humouredly made reference to the unusual situation he and Phillips found themselves in and said: "At least Rory is not competing with me for the scrum-half spot, now I am much more relaxed".

Murray and the rest of the squad have been acclimatising to the oppressive heat and humidity of Hong Kong – "we're going to need a lot more water during matches than usual for certain!" – and he is also adjusting well to life as a Lion.

"When I was named in the squad it was a little surreal. Once you're in camp and you're training with the players you're so used to playing against your competitive instinct takes over and you are trying your best to play yourself into the team."

Murray has a habit of making the most of the opportunities presented him.

He was initially brought into the Munster squad as injury cover two seasons ago but ended up usurping those ahead of him – Tomas O'Leary and Peter Stringer.

He was then possibly the last player to scramble onto the Ireland team plane for the 2011 World Cup and did so as third choice scrum-half.

He finished the tournament as first choice and has been in possession of the number nine jersey with Ireland since.

"Warren said that everyone has an equal opportunity to start that first Test match and that's what we're all aiming to do. It's about keeping the head down, working hard and trying your best."

Murray will be involved on Saturday against the Barbarians. The Lions team was announced earlier today (3.30am Irish time) and as Ben Youngs was involved in the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday he will not be involved leaving Murray and Phillips as the scrum-halves on duty.

Interestingly the Barbarians scrum-half Dimitri Yachvilli was also in opposition when Murray made his international debut during Ireland's series of warm-up matches ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

"I've played against Yachvilli before.

"He's a great player and I've a lot of respect for him. He was also playing for France in the Six Nations in 2012," he added. Meanwhile, Jamie Heaslip an be the starting number eight for the Test Series according to three times Lions tourist Lawrence Dallaglio.

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The England 2003 World Cup winner has challenged Heaslip to reclaim the form that made him the irresistible choice at the base of the Lions' scrum four years ago and overtake Wales' Toby Falatau in the pecking order.

"At the moment it's probable one and two with Jamie in second place," said Dallaglio.

"Over the year Falatau has been playing consistently well and Heaslip (pictured), by virtue of his own very lofty standards, had a quiet Six Nations.

"When it comes to the Lions it's not about how you played two weeks or two months ago. It's how you play now that counts.

"Jamie has been showing signs that he is back to his best as a ball-carrying all action number eight that saw him dominate the scene four year ago.

"If he can continue on that track there is no doubt he can bring something different and exciting to the number eight position for the Tests."


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