‘I Think He’s A Dead Cert.” – Sam Warburton On The Man He Thinks Should Captain The Lions
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Two-time British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has backed England lock Maro Itoje to lead the Lions in South Africa this summer.
Alun Wyn Jones is the current favourite for the prestigious role but while Warburton has backed his former teammate to do an excellent job should he get it – he would rather see Itoje named as tour captain.
The Saracens man had a mixed Six Nations, giving away a number of key penalties in England’s shock defeat to Scotland on the opening day but Warburton still feels Itoje is a guaranteed starter.
The former Cardiff Blues man put Itoje’s form purely down to rustiness and reckons he will be primed and ready to go for the Springboks.
“I’ve gone back and forth, but I’ll go with who I thought at the very beginning and that’s Maro Itoje,” Warburton told us at the launch of the official Lions Test jersey.
“Anybody who looked at the first game of the Six Nations against Scotland where he conceded four or five penalties would say ‘oh you can’t do that, but that was a bit of rustiness.
“Warren will want him primed and ready to go as he’s one of the players who will be a guaranteed Test starter. I was extremely impressed with him in 2017 and Warren would have seen all that as well.
“The other captaincy candidates are a little bit older. You question whether it would be a bit too much pressure for them to go through a tour like this at the end of the season.
“I’ve gone back and forth with him and Alun Wyn Jones. Alun Wyn will be up there and I’m sure will captain games on tour, but I would probably go with Maro Itoje.
“The reason I say Maro as captain is because I think he’s a dead cert and it’s between Alun Wyn and James Ryan to battle it out for that number five shirt.
“I don’t think he will pick a back as captain, so the other player who has the leadership experience he will want is Maro. If Alun Wyn is captain, though, you know you will be in safe hands.”
Sam Warburton was speaking as Canterbury launched the British & Irish Lions Test Jersey. Get yours from www.canterbury.com