Conor Murray says Lions are putting smiles on faces in South Africa

The tour has been called into question by some.
Conor Murray says Lions are putting smiles on faces in South Africa

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Conor Murray insists the British and Irish Lions squad are fully behind the tour to South Africa despite the hosts nation’s escalating coronavirus crisis.

A surge in Covid cases in the Gauteng region that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria has forced South Africa into a ‘level four’ lockdown, bringing with it travel restrictions, an alcohol ban and an overnight curfew.

The entire Springboks squad was forced into isolation on Sunday after three players tested positive, although they have since been given the all-clear to begin training for Friday’s warm-up Test against Georgia.

A revised schedule is under discussion and questions are now being asked over the viability of the tour, but Murray insists there has been no debate within the squad over whether it is right for the Lions to be in South Africa.

“No there hasn’t, not yet,” said Murray, who was appointed tour captain on Saturday night after Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out by a dislocated shoulder.

“Obviously we are very aware of what’s going on outside with the lockdown and things like that, and there are the protocols. But we’re here to put a smile on people’s faces, here and back at home.

“Since we’ve been here, when the bus stops at traffic lights there are people beeping at us and smiling at us. There’s a good buzz around us being here.

Alun Wyn Jones has been ruled out of the Lions tour by a dislocated shoulder
Alun Wyn Jones has been ruled out of the Lions tour by a dislocated shoulder (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We’re very aware of the situation outside of the hotel. We literally go from the hotel to the training ground.

“But we’re very much restricted on our movements at the moment as well. It’s a live document, things can change so quickly.

“We’re here, we’re very lucky to be doing what we’re doing and very focused on putting on a show for people to get behind us and support us.”

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