Despite only being two games into the Six Nations, already there seems to be a consensus emerging when it comes to the Lions captaincy.
Prior to the Championship kicking off, Rory Best, Sam Warburton, Dylan Hartley and Alun Wyn Jones were all said to be front-runners for the position, but circumstances have seen some of the leading candidates drop out of the race.
Dylan Hartley’s early season injury and subsequent suspension have limited his game time, leaving him short of match practice and his performances have suffered as a result.
Although Rory Best began the Six Nations campaign as the favourite to captain the Lions, Ireland’s defeat in Murrayfield followed by the illness that saw him miss their win over Italy has resulted in the Ulster hooker not being as prominent as he otherwise might have been.
Sam Warburton’s decision to surrender the captaincy of Wales seems to have liberated the flanker, who looked back to his best against England in Cardiff last week. Consequently, Warren Gatland might be tempted to unburden the 2013 captain of the responsibilities the captaincy brings this summer.
This leaves Alun Wyn Jones, who Brian O’Driscoll, Martin Johnson and Gavin Hastings believe should be given the honour.
Speaking to the BBC, Hastings touted Jones “as a leader of men”, while O’Driscoll argued that the Welsh second row is “respected in New Zealand and you have to anticipate he’s going to be a Test starter”.
Despite the presence of Best and Hartley, Martin Johnson added ” I thought Jones played really well so maybe he’ll have his nose slightly in front. He’s an experienced player, been out there before, playing pretty well”.
Although O’Driscoll, Hastings and Johnson might be highly regarded within the game, the only opinion that matters is that of Warren Gatland, who has yet to indicate who will captain the side.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena