“He’s a real standout leader for me.”
Paul O’Connell believes Owen Farrell is the best candidate to captain the British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa this summer.
England captain Farrell struggled to find form in the 2021 Six Nations Championship as his country ultimately won just two of their five matches to finish in fifth place.
Despite Farrell’s lack of consistency in recent times, O’Connell told PA Media that he believes the Englishman is the front-runner to captain the Lions against the Springboks.
21-21 with 77 minutes down.
Owen Farrell slots the penalty and the Lions take the win!
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) September 13, 2017
Paul O’Connell on why Owen Farrell should captain the Lions.
“I like Owen Farrell. He’s a real standout leader for me. With matches being played without crowds, you can hear so much of what the players are saying during games,” O’Connell explained.
“You can hear Owen barking at his own players and encouraging them. A lot of it is about getting off the line and the physical side of the game, but a lot of it is also coaching people into position as well.
“He’s pretty experienced, he’s been on two tours already and he has a big leadership role with England. It wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for him.
“There are plenty of guys who could do the job, but for me in terms of experience and an appetite to lead, he’s the real standout.”
‘Its going to be a bit of a challenge for him.’
While O’Connell, a former Lions captain himself, acknowledged that England didn’t have the greatest of Six Nations he believes that Farrell can’t be held responsible for his country’s poor results.
A more pressing issue, according to the former Munster player, is the fact that Farrell will have no more opportunities to play top-level rugby between now and the tour.
Farrell is not the only Lions hopeful that has had a lack of game time in top-level club rugby, however, as his teammates at Saracens have all been resigned to playing in England’s second tier for the season.
“As a team, England didn’t play as well as they’d have liked in the Six Nations. Is that a reflection on Owen Farrell? I don’t really think so,” O’Connell said.
“But it’s probably a bit of a challenge for him now going from the Six Nations to not having a lot of class rugby. England’s form isn’t a good thing, but it gives him perspective on how hard it is to get it right.”