Hogg prepares for mane game
STUART Hogg will be able to forget about looking after Bil the Lion for 80 minutes tonight.
The Scottish fullback will be wearing the No.15 jersey against the Queensland Reds, and he knows just where the British and Irish Lions mascot will be during the game - sitting proudly on the sideline at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
As soon as the game is over, the pair will be reunited, providing none of Hogg's teammates have hidden Bil, and he will resume his around-the-clock responsibility of keeping the prized lion safe.
The youngest player in the touring party traditionally gets the job, and at 20, that means Hogg, who has played 15 times for Scotland, including the 9-6 win against the Wallabies in Newcastle a year ago, has the gig.
While it seems like an easy assignment to tackle, Hogg said that carrying a 'massive' cuddly toy around for six weeks was no easy task.
"I struggle to look after myself sometimes, so to look after something else is tough," Hogg said with a laugh. "I have to keep my eyes on him at all times because there has been no shortage of guys who have taken every opportunity to try to hide him.
"When we first went into camp I 'lost' him for 30 minutes before finding him.
"I've been tempted to leave Bil in my room, but with fines in place, that is not an option."
But it is not only his teammates making it tough for Hogg - Bil is doing his guardian no favours either.
"I suffer from hay fever and Bil has a really long fluffy mane which made my eyes sore and itchy for while," he said.
"I'm okay if I remember to take my hay fever pills now."