Former England captain Lewis Moody has had his say regarding the available Lions captaincy.
Moody believes Maro Itoje would be the right captain for the Lions next summer as a result of his tremendous form last season, having not lost a game he started in.
With the Saracen man only being 21, he would become the youngest ever captain in the red of the British and Irish Lions. England’s newest star was European player of the year last year and deserves the plaudits coming his way having been instrumental in achieving the Grand Slam last spring, while also showing no signs of fear during a series win against Australia.
Moody believes that the versatile forward could be a surprise choice for the series in New Zealand. Links were once again drawn between Martin Johnson and Itoje, and the “new Martin Johnson” has already captained teams to success – leading his side to the U20 World Cup back in 2014. The ongoing link between the pair is a major factor for Moody.
“My left-field choice would be Itoje because I see a little of Martin Johnson in him. In 1997, Jonno was named Lions captain to face South Africa when he didn’t have that much experience at that point and Maro, last season, was consistently the best player in the four home nations.”
Despite only having seven caps for the Red Rose, Itoje deserves consideration. The front runners for the captaincy currently include Dylan Hartley, Sam Warbuton and Alun Wyn Jones. However, many have called for Itoje to be in the side ahead of Jones. In addition, Warbuton has played at blindside flanker recently and people also see Itoje’s potential in that position. Lastly Hartley has been plagued with little injuries recently and faces pressure from Jamie George to start at hooker for England.
“Like Jonno, he is a natural leader, although Warburton did a wonderful job in Australia. Dylan is having a great run with England but will he be first-choice hooker with Jamie George pushing hard for a starting place? Alun Wyn Jones is a hard-nosed individual who is straight-talking. However, I would be surprised if he ended up as the captain.”
With these comments in mind, don’t be surprised to see the Saracens lock taking on the captain’s responsibilities. Having only just entered his second season in test rugby, he may still have his doubters; however, for this writer, Itoje is a worthy captain.
Patrick Perry, Pundit Arena
Additional reading: WRU Selection Policy Could See Jamie Roberts, Taulupe Faletau And George North Miss Out On Lions Tour
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