Stuart Barnes has argued that Maro Itoje should have captained the British and Irish Lions and should also now lead England.
Welsh veteran Alun Wyn Jones captained the Lions in their test series against the Springboks, which ultimately ended 2-1 in favour of the South Africans.
The Lions’ limited game plan and inability to deal with South Africa’s consistent aerial bombardment have been largely agreed upon as the tourists’ main flaws, although Barnes believes a change of captain would also have helped.
Former England international Barnes was writing in his column for The Times and argued that Itoje should have led the Lions against South Africa, while Owen Farrell’s time as England captain has run out.
It was a Man of the Match display from @maroitoje in the First Test ?
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) August 17, 2021
Stuart Barnes on why Maro Itoje should captain England and the Lions.
“Farrell has failed as a centre. He has failed as a captain when the game plan has wobbled. He has succeeded as a link between team and management,” Barnes writes.
“This leads to the primary problem for England — an inability to think for themselves. New faces are needed, new faces with a freedom to think fresh thoughts.
“There is only one alternative: Maro Itoje must be appointed captain. The case is strong. He has been world-class for half a decade.
“He should have been the Lions captain and he should be the England captain. It is time to hear the England players — not only the coach.
“Here is someone capable of inspiring players and supporters; on the field, in a press conference and in the big wide world beyond the team camp.”
Owen Farrell’s position as England captain.
Itoje will have to wait at least four years before he will have a chance to captain the Lions, but the opportunity to captain England may come sooner than that.
Farrell endured a difficult Six Nations leading England, and although players within the Lions camp praised him for his leadership abilities, the Saracens skipper only made two appearances off the bench against the Springboks.
England head coach Eddie Jones looks unlikely to replace Farrell as his captain however, as he has consistently spoken of the faith he has in the 29-year-old.
Farrell is currently Itoje’s captain at both England and Saracens, although the lock does have experience as a captain himself, having led the England U20s to the Junior World Championship title in 2014.