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British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news


Will Stuart Hogg or Alun Wyn Jones captain the Lions in South Africa?

Ahead of the announcement of Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad on Thursday, we take a look at some of the players in contention to lead the touring squad …

Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

Alun Wyn Jones and Gatland go back a long way. Jones was one of the Welsh players Gatland inherited in late 2008 when he took over as head coach, and the second rower was still part of the base squad that qualified for the World Cup semi-final in Japan in 2019.

Jones has been Wales captain full-time since Sam Warburton retired in July 2018, and Lions captain in the third test against the Wallabies in 2013 when Warburton was ruled out due to injury.

Wales have won two of three Six Nations since Jones took over as captain, and the 35-year-old is considered one of the most influential players in the country’s history.

What also matters in Jones’ favor is the feeling that playing against the Springboks means a big battle forward, and therefore having a captain up front is seen as essential. Martin Johnson led the Lions to victory in 1997, while in 2009 Paul O’Connell was invited to lead the team despite Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll also on the squad.

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news 1:47
Jamie Roberts told Sky Sports last month that Alun Wyn Jones is expected to lead the Lions for their South Africa tour

Jamie Roberts told Sky Sports last month that Alun Wyn Jones is expected to lead the Lions for their South Africa tour

All logic points to Jones being a solid candidate, but does the captain have to be some test starter? And if so, is the Welshman guaranteed to start fighting for places against Maro Itoje, James Ryan and potentially someone like Tadhg Beirne?

Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

One person who disagrees with the mantra that a striker should be captain of the Lions in South Africa is Gareth Thomas. The former Welsh skipper got the Lions job in New Zealand in 2005 after O’Driscoll’s tour ended due to injury in the first test.

“I would probably go for someone like Stuart Hogg,” Thomas said Sky Sports News Last week. “He’s constantly in good shape – even when he comes back and plays for Exeter, he doesn’t give up on his standards.

“As a full-back people assume that you are often absent from the game, but the reality is that you are in the game all the time because you are watching what is going on in front of you and you have that decision-process. that is not heated.

“Stuart Hogg is one of the few people who has a chance to make the scoresheet and has led Scotland well – a resurgent Scotland.”

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news 0:57
Former Lions captain Gareth Thomas believes this year’s squad should break tradition and become a fullback, suggesting Scotland’s Stuart Hogg as his choice

Former Lions captain Gareth Thomas believes this year’s squad should break tradition and become a fullback, suggesting Scotland’s Stuart Hogg as his choice

Hogg is probably closer to being a guaranteed starter than anyone in Britain and Ireland, and as Thomas mentioned, the full-back led a Scottish side in this year’s Six Nations that beat the England at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years, and won a first victory over France on French soil since 1999.

There is no doubt about his credentials as a player, but will the number on his back count against him when Gatland unveils his skipper?

Owen Farrell (England)

After a brief period of sharing the captain’s post with Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell took the lead of the England squad which made it to the World Cup final in Japan and won the Six Nations. the next year.

England’s performances in this year’s tournament were nowhere near the high levels of previous championships, and as one of the Saracen players who looked rusty after not playing regularly against opposition from the Premiership, Farrell has some way to go to return to his best individual level.

However, at the age of 29, he only has three games left to play 100 test matches, so he has a lot of international experience and he is a born leader.

In the locker room following a pre-tour game against the Barbarians in 2013, Farrell – then just 21 – was picked by Paul O’Connell as one of the team’s leaders already, and O’Connell still has the same opinion of his former Lions teammate eight years later.

“I love Owen Farrell, he’s a real leader for me,” said the former Lions captain last month. “With games played without a crowd, you can hear so much of what the players are saying during games. You can hear Owen bark at his own players and cheer them on.

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news 0:46
Former Wales and Lions backer Adam Jones says Warren Gatland isn’t afraid to make big calls for the selection with the competition for places heating up

Former Wales and Lions backer Adam Jones says Warren Gatland isn’t afraid to make big calls for the selection with the competition for places heating up

“When you choose a captain or leaders for the Lions tour, it’s about picking guys who are ready to take charge of what the plan is. Owen is a guy who likes to lead and take ownership. is almost a coach. “

The big question, as with all contenders, has to be whether he’s guaranteed to start, and based on this year’s performance that’s not the case with Farrell – whether Gatland is ready to forget that remains to be seen.

Maro Itoje (England)

Maro Itoje was named as future England captain even before making his debut. Eddie Jones’ tongue-in-cheek comments in 2016 that he wanted to convert the forward lock “from a Vauxhall Viva to a BMW” before releasing it on the international stage quickly gave way to regular test play time, and five years on Itoje is every bit the leader that everyone expected

The 26-year-old now has 51 caps to his name and has won every squad cutlery on offer to him, with the one notable exception of the World Cup.

Itjoe falls into a situation similar to Hogg in that he’s almost guaranteed to start, and like Jones, he’s moving into the tight five.

The second-place Saracens was one of England’s best players in a poor Six Nations, but his high number of penalties seemed to reduce his chances of being picked for the role by Gatland.

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news

British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg Line Up to Lead Warren Gatland Tourists to South Africa |  Rugby news 0:34
Maro Itoje says thrilled British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa goes as planned

Maro Itoje says thrilled British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa goes as planned

However, Warburton gave Itoje his approval for the role, saying, “Warren will want him to be prepared and ready to go as he is one of the players who will be a guaranteed starter of the Test. I was extremely impressed. by him in 2017 and Warren would have seen it all too.

“The other candidates for the harbor master’s office are a little older. You wonder if it would be a little too much pressure for them to go through a tour like this at the end of the season.”

Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

Johnny Sexton’s chances of leading the Lions have likely faded following Ireland’s top-down Six Nations campaign earlier this year.

Andy Farrell’s side finished in third place after losses to Wales and France, followed by a win over Scotland and a comfortable win over England.

While Leinster is still a force and Sexton is still a critical part of their recent success, he is not the same athlete who was crowned World Rugby Male Player of the Year in 2018.

There is no doubt that he could do the job for Gatland if asked, but with Sexton turning 36 weeks before the first test against the Boks, and forming No.10 Dan Biggar and Finn Russell scrambling for them. Teamed up with Farrell, Sexton still has to convince Gatland that he must be part of the squad before any conversations about the harbor master’s office can take place.

If Sexton is named to the team, there is no doubt that he will be one of the leadership figures within the group, and with the difficulty of spinning in a bubble, there will be an additional need for experienced leaders to help guide the next generations of Lions, but leading the team to test matches is probably a step too far for the Irish talisman this year.

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