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'No better man' - O'Mahony backs Murray to step up as Lions captain

O’Mahony led the Lions in the first Test against New Zealand in 2017.

Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray.
Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

PETER O’MAHONY HAS backed his Munster and Ireland teammate Conor Murray to rise to the challenge of captaining the British and Irish Lions in South Africa.

Murray, who is on his third Lions tour, was elevated to the status of Lions captain last Saturday after injury ruled Warren Gatland’s original captain Alun Wyn Jones out of the tour.

And O’Mahony, who captained the Lions in the first Test against New Zealand in 2017, says Murray has all the qualities necessary to be a success in the role.

“I’m delighted for him,” O’Mahony said. “It’s an incredible honour. The Lions are a special entity.

“No better man, how many years has he been around? The big games that he has played, the experience he has in terms of a third (Lions) tour is legend stuff.

“He keeps striving to be better. The work the fella puts in is incredible and I am delighted for him.

“It’s his third (Lions) tour, he has an incredible amount of caps for them already, incredible amount of international caps, incredible amount of experience, so it’s great for him.” 

O’Mahony is part of Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad for the July Tests against Japan and the USA, and with 13 uncapped players in camp, the Munster backrow says there is a real sense of enthusiasm in the group ahead of Saturday’s game against the Brave Blossoms.

“Energy levels are very, very high. It’s great to feed off the energy of the uncapped players in the squad. Every time you come into Irish camp it is an incredibly special time, something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. We are incredibly enthusiastic to get selected and be here for next Saturday.

“It’s great, really refreshing. I enjoy helping them (young players) along and seeing the other lads do the same.”

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With 75 caps to his name, O’Mahony is comfortably the senior figure in the squad, with the likes of Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy and Keith Earls all afforded a break on the back on a long season.  

“I didn’t play a huge amount of rugby in the Six Nations so I am delighted to be selected,” O’Mahony added.

“I was keen to be involved, I haven’t played a huge amount in the Six Nations. Happy enough to be here.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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