2017 Lions Player Retrospective: Conor Murray
The voyage to the Land of the Long White Cloud was Conor Murray’s second Tour with The British & Irish Lions – and he certainly delivered the goods once again.
The 28-year-old scrum half came off the bench for the second and third Tests in Australia in 2013, but on this summer’s Tour, Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland made it clear Murray was his main man from the off.
After a series of stunning performances in the Ireland jersey over the past six months – not least against New Zealand in Chicago where the inspired men in green recorded an historic victory – Murray was the favourite to land the No.9 jersey once the Test Series got underway.
Nursing a slight injury heading into the Tour, Murray was not risked until the third game when the Lions took on the highly-fancied Crusaders.
And as those wearing the famous red jersey really clicked into gear in that game, running out 12-3 winners in tricky conditions in Christchurch, Murray’s sublime box-kicking came to the fore and was the difference against the previously unbeaten seven-time Super Rugby champions.
His second appearance against the Maori All Blacks resulted in another impressive Lions triumph, and his ability to stay composed and control the game with 55 passes made – approaching perfection with the accuracy of his box-kicking once again to boot – nailed down his spot as first-choice scrum half.
But it was in the Test arena that he really excelled, and proved himself to be the scourge of the All Blacks once again.
His try in the second Test not only propelled the Lions on to a famous victory in Wellington, but also made him the only man in the Northern Hemisphere to have scored four tries against the All Blacks – having crossed the whitewash against them three times in Ireland colours.
In all his resoluteness in defence, physicality, and accuracy of passing and kicking put New Zealand under real pressure, and in 362 minutes played on Tour he completed 298 passes, kicked 58 times from the hands, and made five clean breaks.
Away from the pitch, Murray also got into the perfect Tour spirit – taking the time to see the incredible scenery at Milford Sound with his teammates, as well as visiting Waitekere Retirement Village to pay his respects to the elderly community alongside Courtney Lawes and Jared Payne.