sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Handing the Lions captaincy to Conor Murray is a shrewd move by ...

sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Handing the Lions captaincy to Conor Murray is a shrewd move by ...
sport news JAMIE ROBERTS: Handing the Lions captaincy to Conor Murray is a shrewd move by ...

Now captain Alun Wyn Jones is out of the Lions squad, the tourists’ big challenge is to replace his energy.

Jones sets the tone with his enthusiasm in training. It’s impossible to keep up with him. I would try to be as energetic as him, but I just couldn’t do it. He was on it in every session. Jones isn’t out-enthused by anyone and that’s why he’s a leader.

The remaining Lions need to harness that now. They must step up and be the flag-bearer Al is.

Conor Murray boasts a wealth of experience, with 89 Ireland caps and two Lions tours

Conor Murray boasts a wealth of experience, with 89 Ireland caps and two Lions tours

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I think Jones knew he was out the moment it happened. I was at Murrayfield for the Japan game where he dislocated a shoulder and I watched him walking off. His face spoke 1,000 words.

You’ve got to credit him for how he acted after — shaking hands, taking the trophy and presenting the new Lions with their caps. He could have easily stayed in the changing rooms and cried into his suit.

It must have been an extremely difficult time for him, knowing that will be his last experience with the Lions. He’s probably got a million messages on his phone to reply to now. The whole of rugby will feel for him.

It’s the cruellest of timing for Jones. He was on his fourth tour, captaining the Lions from the off for the first time — this was his moment. Al will be desperately gutted but will understand this is an occupational hazard of rugby.

Captaincy decision will free up the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje (above) and Ken Owens

Captaincy decision will free up the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje (above) and Ken Owens

It’s the same for Justin Tipuric. He has been immense for club and country for a long time and would have lit up the Lions tour. The brutal truth is that the Lions must, and will, move on quickly.

In 2009, Tom Shanklin was a good mate of mine from Cardiff, and we were selected together. I didn’t play when he dislocated his shoulder against the Dragons 18 days before the tour; he ended up missing his second Lions trip and I went. It’s savage.

Jerry Flannery, the Ireland hooker and now Harlequins coach, dislocated an elbow in training before that 2009 tour, too, but the cruellest that year was flanker Stephen Ferris.

He was flying, but a couple of week before the first Test he was doing Gats’ fabled ‘one-minute drill’ — a contact session where you clean out rucks non-stop for 60 seconds before rotating — and blew his knee out.

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Often someone’s opportunity comes through the misfortune of another. In 2009, Tom Croft came out and had a blinder in the Tests. I have seen it happen.

Al has set the bar for what the Lions second-row jersey demands, so it is up to replacements Adam Beard and Josh Navidi to meet those heights.

Warren Gatland is very honest about it. It’s a team sport. If you go down, the next guy replaces you. He doesn’t like to carry passengers and wants as many available for selection as possible.

Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out of the tour after he dislocated his shoulder against Japan

Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out of the tour after he dislocated his shoulder against Japan

It’s about the team winning. If you’re injured and no good to the group, you’re gone.

Everyone will be distraught for Al and Tips, but the reality is the next cog comes in. As captain, that is Conor Murray.

He is a fascinating pick as skipper. Many

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