Scots know size of challenge

Nathan Hines and Euan Murray are both aware of the size of the challenge that faces the Lions when they take on the Springboks later this summer. [more]

Scots know size of challenge

Nathan Hines and Euan Murray are both aware of the size of the challenge that faces the Lions when they take on the Springboks later this summer.

The pair are the only Scots included in Ian McGeechan’s 37-man squad for the 10-match tour which begins against a Highveld XV in Rustenberg on Saturday, May 30.

The imposing front five forwards have faced the Springboks for Scotland and both are expecting a huge physical encounter when the three-match Test series begins in Durban on June 20.

Perpignan lock Hines has described South Africa as ‘the toughest team to play against physically’, while Northampton prop Murray has called the Boks ‘one of the fittest, strongest, fastest sides I’ve played against ever’.

For 32-year-old Hines, the honour of the Lions must have seemed a distant dream when he announced his retirement from international rugby in 2005.

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Rumored to be disappointed with the then Scotland coaching regime of Matt Williams and Willie Anderson, Hines called time on his Scotland career only to return to the fold when his former Edinburgh coach Frank Hadden took over at Murrayfield.

The Australian born and raised former rugby league player has since re-established himself as one of Britain and Ireland’s top locks and as a result learnt of his Lions selection on Tuesday afternoon, albeit in slightly surreal surroundings.

"I’d gone for a nervous trip to the loo and started to get text messages of congratulations in before the announcement on my screen," said Hines, who was at home in France when Gerald Davies read out the 37 Lions for 2009.

"It’s still sinking in. I’m pretty happy. South Africa are the toughest team to play against physically, in my experience, and that’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to."

Murray, who joined Northampton from Glasgow in 2007 despite the English side’s relegation from the Guinness Premiership, is also looking forward to the challenge having developed a different attitude to his rugby over the past three years.

The 28-year-old became a born-again Christian in 2006 after suffering convulsions on the field playing for Glasgow against Munster. As well as leaving him fearing for his life and then career, the experience resulted in a renewed determination to make the most of his talents once he was fit enough to resume playing.

"I came down to England to play in the Premiership and improve my rugby and have changed my attitude to the game," explained Murray, who currently has 28 international caps to his name.

"As a Christian, I want to do what pleases God. He says, ‘Whatever you find your hand to do, do it with all your might’, and I realised that I could be doing more.

"So I’ve worked as hard as I could all year and the results have now been rewarded, which I’m really pleased about."

Thankfully for McGeechan and co, Murray has no intention of giving up the hard work just because he has earned Lions selection.

Instead, he intends to do everything he can to become a Test player for a winning Lions side.

"I’ve played South Africa twice and been beaten twice, but only narrowly," added Murray.

"They’re one of the fittest, strongest, fastest sides I’ve played against ever, so it will be a massive task this summer.

"I’m looking forward to trying to win myself a starting place for the Lions and trying to get another overseas win."

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