Scot targets Test place
Mature Hogg ready to make his mark with Lions
It will be an older and wiser Stuart Hogg who boards the plane this summer for his second tour of duty with the British and Irish Lions.
The Glasgow Warriors full-back is one of only two Scotland players in a 41-man squad selected for New Zealand, club mate Tommy Seymour having also forced his way into head coach Warren Gatland’s plans.
While it will be the 28-year-old winger’s first taste of Lions action, Hogg was also on the victorious tour to Australia four years ago.
The youngest member of the 2013 touring squad, Hogg played in five games, scoring one try, but failed to feature in any of the Tests.
The 53-times capped international will celebrate his 25th birthday on the other side of the world and insists he is a more mature individual from the one who was handed the task of looking after the toy lion mascot Down Under.
“I’m chuffed to bits to be going to New Zealand. There has been a lot of speculation over the last few weeks but I’m over the moon after hearing my name read out today,” he said.
“I maybe pulled a hammy jumping about like a clown afterwards! I’m massively excited and hugely honoured.
“Over the last few years I have become a better player purely being on the last Lions tour. There are some huge challenges coming our way but I hope to get a bit of game time and show what I’ve got and get a starting jersey.
“The biggest thing I learned from the last tour is I need to be professional 24/7. I certainly wasn’t that going into the last tour but now I fully believe I am. I was a better player coming off the back of that, have matured over the last couple of years, so here’s hoping I can get a bit of game time.
“I’ll be going there as a No. 15 and do all I can to get that jersey. I need to work incredibly hard to achieve that.”
Challenges don’t come any tougher than facing up to the All Blacks on their own soil and Hogg admitted he would have loved to have seen a bigger tartan influence in the squad as captain Sam Warburton looks to lead the Lions to what would be just a second series win in New Zealand since 1904.
Kiwi Gatland, who masterminded the Lions’ victory over the Wallabies, named 16 England players, 12 from Wales and 11 Irish in addition to the Scots duo and Hogg said: “I’m chuffed for Tommy. He has been world class over the past few years and fully deserves his seat on the plane.
“I would have loved to have seen other boys going but you have to look at the pressure Warren Gatland was under to pick a squad. I wouldn’t like to do it. A few boys probably just missed out but it’s tough to pick a squad.
“The fact Tommy and I are going is down to our team-mates. We play in a very good team, whether that is with Glasgow or Scotland. At Glasgow we have been chasing trophies for the past five years and with Scotland we are ever improving.
“The fact the ball gets out wide and makes us look good means our team-mates are getting us in the right positions. There is still plenty of time and plenty of games to be played. There is always injuries so here’s hoping we can keep a solid squad but that a few other Scots boys get in through time.
“Taking on New Zealand in their own back yard is the ultimate challenge in rugby. These are the reasons why you play rugby but it is going to be incredibly tough.
“There will be a fair bit of rugby played before the Test matches and few different combinations tried so here’s hoping we can get a bit of game time.
“The hard work starts for us now. It’s not a case of just being happy at being selected – we’re going for the starting jerseys.”
The tour runs from 3 June to 8 July and features three Test matches against the All Blacks.
« Debenhams and Marks & Spencer to shut stores (Previous News)
(Next News) Gilson Gray adds Kennedy in marketing role »