A proud Lion

Lions tourist Geordan Murphy says he can't imagine anything that could compare to captaining his country. [more]

A proud Lion

Lions tourist Geordan Murphy says he can’t imagine anything that could compare to captaining his country.

The 2005 Test Lion will skipper Ireland against the New Zealand Maori this Friday and he admits he is both honoured and shocked by the opportunity.

"It's a huge honour, a massive one. It's one I didn't expect but I can't imagine anything that would compare," said Murphy, who takes the armband from Brian O’Driscoll, who is rested, Lions skipper Paul O’Connell, who is out injured, and fellow Lion Ronan O’Gara, who is named on the bench.

"Obviously playing for Ireland is fantastic and leading them out will be amazing.

"It's a very special occasion on the weekend. We're fully aware of the Maori heritage and it's obviously 100 years since the team got together and they're a fantastic side.

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"When I was a young player I would always watch the Maoris play and admire the way they throw the ball around."

Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has made wholesale changes following the 66-28 defeat to the All Blacks last weekend and Murphy insists he and his team-mates have a massive chance to put a marker down on Friday.

With 67 Ireland caps to his name and one for the Lions, Murphy is edging towards the latter stages of his career but plenty of his colleagues this Friday are just starting out.

The likes of Johne Murphy, Ed O'Donoghue and Chris Henry are all hoping to impress, with Rhys Ruddock looking to continue his remarkably rapid rise by pushing or a squad spot against the Wallabies in just over a week’s time.
And Murphy believes those new faces will relish the challenge.

"There's a few opportunities for guys who haven't had a run or maybe don't have as many caps as others. You know everyone starts somewhere," added Murphy, in reference to Kidney’s decision to introduce new blood among his 15 alterations to the starting XV.

"Everyone needs those opportunities to put in a good performance and at the end of the day we're pulling on Ireland jerseys. You need no more incentive.

"Everyone will be up for it. We've touched on how passionate the Maori guys will be. It's up to us to bring a little bit of Irishness to it as well."

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