Rugby | 4 months ago
Warren Gatland's latest comments opens up the door for Lions captaincy
It ain't as straight forward as you think

Could the Lions captain come from 'left-field'?

Ask most people who they think will be captain of the British & Irish Lions for the summer tour of New Zealand and most will tell you one of three names.

Alun Wyn Jones, Dylan Hartley and Rory Best.

What do these three have in common?

They are all captains of their respective national sides.

However, Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, has stated on numerous occasions now that although he recognises the importance of the Lions captaincy, the most important thing is picking the best fifteen players who will take to the pitch in the first Test against the All Blacks, regardless if one of those players are captain or not.

Of course, it would be naive for Gatland to start sounding out particular players for the captaincy, especially considering the potential for injury between now and the end of the season.

However, when you look at the three players who are constantly being mentioned, you realise that they aren't exactly playing their best rugby at the moment and according to Gatland's perceived philosophy, this could mean that they may not be involved in the starting XV come the summer.

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Gatland was asked by Sky Sports News whether the Lions captain would have to be captain of their country and he had this to say in response.

"Not at all. Ideally [they will have] some captaincy experience.

"If you're looking at the squad, you're picking the Test team after the squad is selected and you're looking at the captain and asking if that person would be likely to be selected in a Test XV?"

Gatland further added that it could end up being a "left-field" choice.

"...there are no guarantees at the moment. It could be someone from left field."

With that in mind, who are these potential left-field choices?

Owen Farrell 

The clamour for Farrell to be included in the candidates for the captaincy has been growing for some time now. Especially, as his performances for England continue to reach new levels.

He was near flawless against Wales in the Principality Stadium, talking on more responsibility once Dylan Hartley left the fray early in the second half.

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Situations don't get much tougher than playing Wales on a Saturday night in Cardiff and Farrell showed all his experience and composure to guide his side to victory.

He nailed three penalties and a conversion, and provided a glorious pass for the game-winning try.

This is even more impressive when you consider he was on the receiving end of a massive, late hit from Welsh bulldozer, Ross Moriarty.

The way he dusted himself down and got on with the game would not have gone unnoticed by Gatland.

Peter O'Mahony 

Although O'Mahony hasn't found himself in the Ireland team of late, he is a huge leader and motivator and has experience of captaining both Munster and Ireland at various stages throughout his career.

There are not too many other players in world rugby who have his ability to disrupt ball at the breakdown, both legally and illegally (and get away with it), and his set piece dominance in both attack and defence, combined with the overall level of aggression he brings to the game are all vital attributes which will be needed to topple the All Blacks in the summer.

You would think that O'Mahony would need to find himself back in the Ireland side sooner rather than later but he also has the opportunity to impress even further for Munster as they look set to compete for silverware on both fronts come the end of the season.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TEST SPECIAL!

Click play [below] for the latest episode of The Hard Yards rugby podcast, with Stephen Ferris, Kevin McLaughlin and Isaac Boss joining host Andy McGeady and SportsJOE's Pat McCarry.

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Warren Gatland, Lions Tour 2017