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Friendly face puts Murray at ease with starting spot up for grabs

Conor Murray is happy to have a new room-mate in Rory Best since the Lions touched down in Hong Kong. When the Lions met up in London he was sharing with Wales' Mike Phillips – a direct rival for a place in the Lions Test team.

Murray good-humouredly made reference to the unusual situation he and Phillips found themselves in and said: "At least Rory is not competing with me for the scrum-half spot, now I am much more relaxed".

Murray and the rest of the squad have been acclimatising to the oppressive heat and humidity of Hong Kong – "we're going to need a lot more water during matches than usual for certain!" – and he is also adjusting well to life as a Lion.

"When I was named in the squad it was a little surreal. Once you're in camp and you're training with the players you're so used to playing against, your competitive instinct then takes over and you are trying your best to play yourself into the team."

Murray has a habit of making the most of the opportunities presented to him. He was initially brought into the Munster squad as injury cover two seasons ago but ended up usurping those ahead of him – Tomas O'Leary and Peter Stringer.


He was then possibly the last player to scramble on to the Ireland team plane for the 2011 World Cup and did so as third-choice scrum-half.

He finished the tournament as first choice and has been in possession of the No 9 jersey with Ireland since.

"Warren (Gatland) said that everyone has an equal opportunity to start that first Test match and that's what we're all aiming to do," he continued. "It's about keeping the head down, working hard and trying your best."

Murray will be involved on Saturday in the game with the Barbarians. The Lions team was announced earlier today (3.30am Irish time) and as Ben Youngs was involved in the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday he will not be involved, leaving Murray and Phillips as the scrum-halves on duty.

Interestingly, the Barbarians scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was also in opposition to Murray when the Munster player made his international debut during Ireland's series of warm-up matches ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

"I've played against Yachvili before," Murray said. "He's a great player and I have a lot of respect for him. He was also playing for France in the Six Nations in 2012."

Irish Independent