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Hogg ‘shocked’ to captain Lions in tour opener

Honour: Stuart Hogg (pic: SNS Group).

Stuart Hogg said he was shocked to be told he would be captaining the British and Irish Lions on their tour opener in South Africa this weekend.

The Scotland full-back will lead the tourists into battle against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, with Warren Gatland having made 14 changes from the team which beat Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“It was a bit of shock when Warren gave me the shout that I was going to be captain,” said Hogg.

“It’s a huge honour to be here first and foremost, but to have the opportunity to lead this team, never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.

“It’s going to be tough but enjoyable all the same.”

Gatland said he is a fan of Hogg’s leadership style.

“You’re looking at players who have had some experience. Stuart is on his third tour now, he did a great job with Scotland and he’s come from a very successful club in Exeter,” he said.

“He’s got that experience and leadership skills, he’s very calm and leads from the front in the way he plays. He delivers clear and concise messages without rambling on and raving. I really like his leadership style and the way he’s been with the team this week.

“There’s a number of other players that potentially are in contention, we have got a strong leadership group and we are going to need other players besides Conor Murray through this tour to captain the side.

“We are fortunate that we’ve got a fair number of choices that we could possibly go to.

“With losing Alun Wyn it’s now a responsibility on the leadership group and other players in the squad to step up and really support each other. They’ve done a great job in doing that and taking on that mantle to make sure it’s not just Stuart’s responsibility, but everyone’s, and those experienced players are taking a role in terms of communicating and taking some of the pressure off the captain.”

Kick-off on Saturday is 5pm.

Lions XV: Hogg; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Farrell, Adams; Russell, Price; W Jones, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, H Watson, Faletau. Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Vunipola, Fagerson, Henderson, Simmonds, Davies, Aki, Daly.

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