Zander Fagerson in fine voice as Finn Russell joins up with British and Irish Lions

Zander Fagerson has been in fine voice during the Lions training camp in Jersey and hopes to hit the high notes when the action begins against Japan in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Zander Fagerson training with the British and Irish Lions in Jersey. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
Zander Fagerson training with the British and Irish Lions in Jersey. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

The big prop is desperate to be involved at Murrayfield as Warren Gatland’s side take on the World Cup quarter-finalists before heading to South Africa.

Fagerson says he’s loved his time in camp where his talents as a singer have come in handy. In his younger years the Glasgow forward was a member of the National Boys Choir and he has found his range in Jersey, volunteering his services for the Lions choir committee.

“I bit the bullet,” he said. “I thought if I didn’t nominate myself and the boys found out I was in the choir I would get a real shooing. So I thought I would get ahead of the curve and nominate myself.

Finn Russell is upended playing for Racing 92 against La Rochelle in the French Top 14 semi-final. He has now joined up with the Lions.

“I am enjoying it and have got a good song – I have been singing Loch Lomond, a classic.”

Sing-songs have become something of a Lions tradition over the years, and are a useful bonding exercise, but the first test of how together they are will come on Saturday.

Fagerson’s last experience of playing Japan was not a happy one. He was part of the Scotland side that lost 28-21 to the World Cup hosts in Yokohama in 2019, a result that saw the Scots eliminated.

“My memories of Japan as a country were absolutely awesome,” said the 25-year-old. “I loved the place and the whole tournament but the rugby was not where we wanted it to be. It was quite a tough end to our World Cup campaign.

Zander Fagerson says playing at Murrayfield in a Lions jersey would be 'absolutely incredible'. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

“We know what they are going to bring. They are going to be fast, physical and they are a good scrummage unit.

“If selected it will be a dream come true. For me growing up and playing for Scotland was the biggest dream of all and I never thought about the Lions. To possibly play at Murrayfield in a Lions jersey would be absolutely incredible.”

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Gatland will name his team on Tuesday and the squad has been bolstered by the arrival in Jersey of Finn Russell and the Saracens contingent.

Russell is available after his Racing 92 side lost to La Rochelle in the semi-finals of the French Top 14 play-offs on Friday while the Sarries quintet of Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola flew in on Monday morning after helping the club reclaim their place in England’s top flight with a thumping win over Ealing on Sunday.

All will be tested for coronavirus before being allowed to join up with the rest of the Lions.

With Dan Biggar the only other stand-off currently with the squad, it is expected that either Russell or Farrell will be involved on Saturday.

Steve Tandy, the Lions defence coach, was keen to disabuse anyone of the notion that the Murrayfield match is some sort of gentle introductory exercise.

“I don’t see it as a curtain-raiser, I see it as a full-blooded Test match,” he said. “Japan will come here fully focussed on repeating the sorts of performances we saw from them in the World Cup when they were outstanding, so we need to be fully focussed on what we want to be.”

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