Rugby-Curry tries to keep calm ahead of Lions debut

·2-min read

By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Tom Curry is trying to calm himself down ahead of his British & Irish Lions debut when they take on the Sharks in Johannesburg in the second match of their South Africa tour.

England flanker Curry is set for a belated debut on Wednesday after recovering from a pectoral injury.

"I was little concerned, I’d got a little bit excited on bench press but it was probably a good thing to put me back in check," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I’ve tried to build up for this week in an orderly fashion rather than get too excited a bit too quickly but to be honest I cannot wait to get out there. The opportunity has finally come."

The 23-year-old Curry, expected to earn a place in the Lions test team, is the only member of the squad selected by Warren Gatland not to have played against Japan in Edinburgh or the Gauteng Lions in Johannesburg last Saturday.

Now restored to full fitness, he will feature in a back row alongside his compatriot Sam Simmonds and Welshman Josh Navidi, who was a late call-up to the tour squad after Justin Tipuric was injured.

It will be Curry’s first international alongside Simmonds, who last played for England in 2018 but has been shunned by coach Eddie Jones since despite winning European and Premiership player of the year awards.

"Sam especially in attack and having Navidi around the breakdown defensively is a really exciting combination and one that I’ve been excited to learn off, but also throw everything into," Curry said. "They are both unbelievable players."

With all the uncertainty swirling around as South African rugby struggles with positive COVID-19 cases, Curry agreed it was a tour on which players had to be prepared for the unexpected.

"You’ve just got to prepare normally. You get your body ready, yourself ready to play and if the game is there … brilliant. If not, then crack on to the next one," he said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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