Hogg: Lions captaincy won’t change my approach

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Stuart Hogg

You don’t need to tell Stuart Hogg what it means to captain The British & Irish Lions.

A tourist in 2013 and 2017, the Scotland skipper has witnessed first-hand what it takes to lead the unique team comprised of the best players from the four home nations.

But the 29-year-old has not only learnt about the honour from his own experiences with the Lions, he also obsessed over the many documentaries made about the tourists through the years.

Saturday’s opening Tour match against the Sigma Lions will now see Hogg join one of the most exclusive clubs in rugby – and the skipper admitted it is a moment he will savour.

“For me it’s a huge, huge honour. As a kid growing up you watch all the different Lions DVDs, videos and I had the dream of representing them one day,” said Hogg.

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Warren Gatland and Stuart Hogg

“To be given the opportunity to captain the side is absolutely amazing, I’m over the moon and delighted with the opportunity, it gives me a huge amount of confidence to lead this side.

“For me, it becomes a lot easier when you’ve got a lot of experience within the squad as well so I’m hugely excited for the challenge. It’s a hugely exciting time for us all.

“The build-up has been very, very good and we’ve spoken a lot about trying to put a marker down early doors and really starting this Tour in the best way possible.”

Of all the documentaries that Hogg binged when he was growing up, the famous Living With Lions from the 1997 Tour remains the one that still resonates with him the most.

Hogg to captain Lions Rugby in Tour opener

The full-back can even quote most of the documentary back from memory – so when asked who he thinks of first when he pictures a Lions captain, his answer came as no surprise.

“I think for me, after watching the ’97 Lions video about a million times and being able to quote 90 per cent of it, I would probably say Martin Johnson,” Hogg continued.

“I absolutely loved it and I think the thing for me about being captain, is that it doesn’t change anything you do, you go out and be your own man, you be yourself.

“For me, I’ve never been the one that will stand and scream and shout or boss people around, I like to lead by the way that I perform and I’m very fortunate within this team.

Stuart Hogg

“There is a huge amount of experience and some great leaders involved in this team, Owen Farrell, Finn Russell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and I just have to go and do my job.

“That’s the way that I lead. If there’s something that needs to be said then I’m a very passionate player, a very passionate rugby player and hugely honoured for this challenge ahead.”

Hogg only joined up with the Lions just before they flew out to South Africa, having come on as a replacement in Exeter Chiefs’ 40-38 defeat to Harlequins in the Premiership final last weekend.

And while Lion #783 was frustrated not to start either the semi-final or the final for his club side, Hogg insisted he has already turned his focus to helping the Lions hit the ground running.

“You want to be involved and you want to win in every single game that you play in and unfortunately it didn’t quite come off for us at the weekend,” he said.

 to the team 1/7/2021

“It’s bitterly disappointing but I’ve had to draw a line under that very, very quickly and get on with my next job and I’m very fortunate to be involved this weekend.”

Hogg also revealed that he plans to reach out to Alun Wyn Jones after the Wales legend was ruled out of the Tour following a shoulder injury he sustained against Japan in Edinburgh.

“I’ll probably pick up the phone to Alun Wyn over the next couple of days and pick his brains, obviously bitterly disappointed for him,” said Hogg, who told his family about the captaincy earlier in the week.

“He’ll still have a huge impact on this Tour in terms of what he’s done in the last few weeks and what he’ll do moving forward as well, it’s just the type of guy he is. He’s an absolute legend of the game and I’ll definitely be picking his brains, that’s for sure.”

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