Scotland and Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg, named captain for the British and Irish Lions’ first tour game in South Africa this Saturday vs the Emirates Lions, live on Sky Sports, says he is ‘bitterly disappointed’ for injured Alun Wyn Jones and will reach out to the Welshman for advice
Last Updated: 01/07/21 1:48pm
Stuart Hogg says he will consult Alun Wyn Jones ahead of Saturday’s clash with Emirates Lions after being named British and Irish Lions captain for the first fixture on South African soil.
Jones was ruled out of the tour by a dislocated shoulder and while Conor Murray has been appointed as his replacement in terms of tour skipper, it is Hogg who leads the Lions into their Johannesburg opener, with Murray not involved having played 61 minutes vs Japan on Saturday.
Saturday’s action is live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 4pm.
“I’ll probably pick up the phone to Alun Wyn over the next couple of days and pick his brains,” Hogg said.
“Obviously I was bitterly disappointed for him picking up an injury, but he’ll have a huge impact on this tour in terms of what he’s done over the last few weeks and what he’ll do moving forwards.”
Speaking to Sky Sports about the ‘honour’ of being named captain, Hogg added: “It came as a bit of a shock!
“The team announcement came on Monday evening and Warren [Gatland] gave me the shout that I was going to be captain.
“He said he tried to catch me before the meeting but couldn’t quite get me, so I found out the same time as everybody else.
“It’s a huge honour. It’s a huge honour to be here first and foremost, but to have the opportunity to lead this side, never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen so I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Hogg, like his Exeter Chiefs club-mates Jonny Hill, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds, was a late arrival to Lions duty and missed the training camp in Jersey due to Premiership final commitments.
“We’ve all been chucked in at the deep end, and that’s the way we’d like it,” he said.
“For us, there’s a lot of different set-piece plays to pick up on and the way we want to try and implement our game-plan, but the boys and coaches have been absolutely tremendous from the very beginning.
“We’re all delighted to be here now and ready to crack on.”
Having taken part in Saturday’s Premiership final, as Exeter lost to Harlequins 40-38 at Twickenham, Hogg will have featured in a final, travelled to South Africa and then played at altitude on Saturday vs the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.
“It has been a tough couple of days, coming off the back of last week’s game [Exeter lost Harlequins in the final] straight across, no rest for the wicked, but that’s the way we wanted it to be. It is going to be tough.
“We need to be comfortable being uncomfortable in the game, and that’s how we’re going to get the best out of each other.”
“I’m massively looking forward to it. The opportunity to represent the British and Irish Lions is an unbelievable feeling, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved.”
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Hogg toured as a Lion to Australia in 2013 as the youngest member of the squad, and again four years ago to New Zealand before departing early due to a facial injury.
But the Lions tour of 2021 will be like no other due to the effects of Covid-19, but Hogg says the squad are embracing the extra challenges of living in a bubble.
“It pains me to say it, but it’s almost become the new norm.
“We’ve been involved in camps in the autumn last year and the Six Nations this year, and we’re picking the brains of different nations in terms of what worked well and what we can work on.
“And to make sure the boys are enjoying themselves at the same time as working hard.
“We’re all here for the same common goal: to be part of a successful Lions tour, and that’s all we’re focussed on.”