Warren Gatland Names Three Players He’s Considering As Lions 2021 Captain
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For top players in Britain and Ireland – it doesn’t come much bigger than captaining the Lions. Just look at the incredible list of names that have led the famous touring side over the years…
Paul O’Connell, Martin Johnson, Brian O’Driscoll, Willie John McBride, Sam Warburton – the list goes on. The best of the best. It’s the pinnacle in many respects for most players and getting the selection right for a head coach is so important.
Warren Gatland has taken charge of the Lions on their last two tours to Australia and New Zealand with Sam Warburton doing an excellent job as tour captain in both of those tours, winning one series and drawing the other.
But with the Welsh flanker now retired – it’s time for a new man to step up when Gatland leads the Lions for a third time against South Africa in 2021. So who does the former Wales boss have in mind for South Africa 2021?
Speaking on BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast with Ugo Monye and Chris Ashton, Gatland said he currently has three men in mind – England’s Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje, and Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.
“There’s obvious people who come to mind,” Gatland said.
“Alun Wyn [Jones] if he’s fit. He’s 34 now so, he sort of becomes another Paul O’Connell if can keep his body together.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Owen Farrell as a player and as a leader.
“Maro [Itoje], with another couple of years of maturity and stuff [he could be a candidate].
“We’ve seen that sort of young buck who was chasing around everything, now we’re seeing a bit of control in his game.
In terms of picking a tour captain, Gatland says the process can be very difficult. You’re not just looking for someone who commands respect and is an excellent leader – but also someone who can command a Test spot when the series begins.
“The hardest thing about picking a Lions captain is first of all – you’re trying to pick someone who is obviously a quality player and has got a massive amount of respect in their own team and from the players in other teams,” Gatland said.
“But you’re [also] trying to pick someone who you think if they’re playing to their best and their form is good enough, they’re potentially going to command a Test spot.
“And in some positions, you get so much competition. You think – ‘Yeah he could be a great captain but I can’t guarantee he’s going to be the best player on the tour’, so you might end up going for someone else.
“Look at that second-row. It’s pretty competitive. But he’s [Itoje] absolutely world-class.”