Wales Online

Alun Wyn Jones replaces Owen Farrell as favourite to captain the Lions amid recent shift

Wales Online logo Wales Online 17/09/2020 12:44:05 Mark Orders

Alun Wyn Jones' chances of being named Lions captain for the tour to South Africa appear to be strengthening.

The Wales skipper is favourite to wear the armband in South Africa with at least three firms of leading bookmakers.

Betfair have Jones at 7/4, with Farrell at 3/1 and Maro Itoje at 7/2.

Skybet have Jones at 9/4, Itoje at 3/1 and Farrell at 7/2.

And Irish company Boyle Sports have Jones as a clear market leader at 13/8.

Itoje is second in the running with them at 3/1, with Farrell at 4/1 and James Ryan at 7/1.

Back in April, Boyle Sports and a number of other bookmakers had Farrell as favourite for job.

But the Englishman didn't exactly do himself many favours by being sent off recently and banned for five weeks after a dangerous tackle on Wasps' Charlie Atkinson which was widely condemned.

There's been media speculation that the hit on the 18-year-old may have damaged the England captain's chances of pointing the way with the Lions.

Itoje is bright, articulate and an exceptional player who comes across as officer class.

Counting against him is that he is neither captain of his club, Saracens, nor his country, England, and earlier this summer England's coach Eddie Jones expressed caution about the idea of the young lock leading the best of British and Irish rugby.

Jones will be 35 when next summer's tour unfolds, older than any Lions captain since 1896, though Willie John McBride led the unbeaten 1974 tourists to South Africa at the age of 34.

In his favour is that his leadership skills are proven and renowned. He is a player who galvanises others and can make good decisions in the heat of battle, while he has also learned to stay on the right side of referees.

Warren Gatland is also familiar with Jones' qualities as leader, having worked with him with Wales and seen the influence the Osprey brought to bear during the 2019 Grand Slam.

Nonetheless, performances during internationals in the coming months will be key, with the expectation being that Gatland will want to be sure the man he names as skipper will be able to command a place in the Test side.

Ken Owens is also on Betfair's long list of captaincy candidates at 16/1, while Jonathan Davies figures at 33/1.

17. syyskuuta 2020 15:44:05 Categories: Wales Online

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