Rugby-New Lions cap Harris surprised by his selection


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - British and Irish Lions Training - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain June 25, 2021 British and Irish Lions' Chris Harris during training Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Chris Harris was shocked by his selection for the British & Irish Lions after being named on Tuesday in the starting lineup to take on South Africa in the second test on Saturday.

The Scotland international replaces Elliot Daly at outside centre in one of three changes made by coach Warren Gatland to the starting XV for the clash at the Cape Town Stadium.

“We had training in the day and it was hard to tell what the team would potentially be. It was a surprise, a nice surprise for me. I was a bit taken aback when my name was read out by Warren, but I am absolutely delighted,” the 30-year-old told a news conference on Tuesday.

He had been sitting next to Daly at the team meeting when Gatland told the players of the lineup.

“Elliot was the first to congratulate me. It was a similar thing for me last week when the team was named," said Harris.

“I wasn’t named in the squad at all last week. Of course I felt really deflated but it is part of professional sport and this environment. It is all about how you are going to react to it.

“If you become a bit bitter and you switch off it doesn’t look good on you, and you are not testing the team that is going to go out there and play against South Africa,” he added.

“It is tough to take and I had to deal with it last week. You have to just get over that, push on and train to the best of your ability."

Harris said the Lions were expecting a backlash from the Springboks, who need to win to level the series.

“Pressure is a privilege isn’t it? It is an opportunity for me to go out there and really show what I am about, contribute my game to the team. It’s my first test, I just want to go out there and give the best version of myself,” he said.

“We’re going out there to win. We know the Springboks will be a lot more hungry. They have to win. They’ll want to be that extra bit physical – we’ve got to match that and give a bit more,” he added.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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