Chris Harris happy to be inside or outside and why he won't get hung up on Lions Test selection

Chris Harris burnished his reputation for defensive solidity during an impressive Six Nations campaign in which he played a fundamental role in Scotland’s away wins over England and France.

Chris Harris in action for the Lions during the 71-31 win over the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Chris Harris in action for the Lions during the 71-31 win over the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images

His form earned him a call-up for the British and Lions tour and the Cumbrian Scot showed his versatility with a try-scoring performance at inside centre in the ultimately convincing win over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

He is one of only three players who are retained in the starting XV for Wednesday’s clash with South Africa in A in Cape Town but Harris switches to outside centre, the position he is more accustomed to playing for Gloucester and Scotland

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The 30-year-old is confident his body can handle the four-day turnaround and is looking forward to a tougher test against a side packed with World Cup-winning Springboks.

“It’s always going to be enjoyable playing for the Lions, whether it’s at 12 or whether it’s at 13 I really don’t mind,” said Harris. “For me, playing 12, it’s not too much different. It’s different for one or two phases, maybe, and then you’re just into it.

“I love playing 13 as well. That’s where I’ve played most of my rugby so it’ll be good to get back in the 13 jersey and hopefully I can put in a good performance.”

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Harris is the only Scotland in the starting XV, although tighthead prop Zander Fagerson is named among the replacements. The centre knows Wednesday’s match represents a significant step up in quality but he was pleased to see South Africa picking an A side that, in truth, is closer to a full Test team.

“It’s not a Test match but it is a test!” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us but that’s only going to be a good thing.

“We’re going to be playing against some world class players. The defence is going to be much better than what we’ve faced, and the same with the attack side. Look, it’s a big challenge but it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

The Test series is scheduled to begin in Cape Town a week on Saturday and time is running short for players to stake their claim. Elliot Daly was given an outing at 13 against the Sharks but the Saracens man is seldom used in that position by England.

Warren Gatland might disagree with Eddie Jones on that one but Harris also clearly figures in the thoughts of the Lions head coach. But the Scot says he is thinking only of Wednesday’s game and is refusing to allow selection issues to cloud his thinking.

“I never really over analyse it. At the end of the day the way I look at it is that I’ve been given an opportunity and if you get caught worrying about ‘what does this mean’ and ‘what does that mean’ or ‘what’s the Test team going to be’ it’s only going to hinder your performance.

“It’s just about performing, and all that other stuff will look after itself.

“As long as you can come off the field and say, ‘right, I was proud of that performance, I’m happy with that’ then that’s all I can do.”

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