British and Irish Lions 2013: Stuart Hogg determined to challenge Leigh Halfpenny for full-back position
The Scot hopes to mount challenge this weekend
Friday 31 May 2013
Leigh Halfpenny might be a firm favourite for the British and Irish Lions' Test full-back position - but Scotland star Stuart Hogg is determined to mount an early challenge at Hong Kong Stadium tomorrow.
Halfpenny deservedly took this season's RBS 6 Nations player of the tournament accolade after playing a pivotal role in Wales' successful title defence.
With Ireland full-back Rob Kearney also in Lions head coach Warren Gatland's Test match mix ahead of the opening series clash against Australia on June 22, it could be argued that Hogg has his work cut out.
But the 20-year-old knows an extension of his recently impressive Six Nations form could give Gatland a selection headache.
And that process starts tomorrow when the Lions take on the Barbarians in a prelude to their major business of nine games Down Under.
"I've got nothing to lose to be honest," Hogg said.
"Everybody is expecting Leigh to be the starting (Test team) number 15, and I will push him all the way to get that starting spot.
"But at the end of the day it's good for me to have guys like that you can learn off. Rob Kearney as well, learning how they play 15, adapting to how they play and hopefully learning a lot from them."
Despite being just 15 caps into his Scotland career, Hogg is rated among the most exciting young players in European rugby, and he is determined to savour every minute of the Lions experience.
"It is quite surreal when you are putting on Lions T-shirts, looking at the badge and you are thinking 'I'm not here as a supporter, I'm here as a player'," he added.
"I find myself very fortunate to be here as a player. I am enjoying it, and I am looking forward to learning a lot on the tour.
"It's pretty surreal being here, but I've got myself here on good performances, and I am hoping to continue that form. It's an exciting couple of months ahead."
And if Hogg requires any inspiration, then his superstar relative George Best might just provide it, having discovered last season that Manchester United and Northern Ireland football legend Best, who died in 2005, is related to him.
"It was after I was capped in Wales," Hogg added.
"When I got capped, the Irish relatives got in touch with my dad, and he was in tears on the phone. To meet all the Irish relatives was pretty amazing, and it is amazing that has come about due to rugby.
"My dad (former Hawick full-back John Hogg) is Scottish, but my granny was Irish and off the Best side. It is a pretty amazing feeling to find out you are related in some way, maybe distant, to him. It's pretty cool.
"I've been on YouTube a few times and watched some clips of him. He was some character, by the sound of things."
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