Following Sam Warburton’s retirement, Lion’s coach Warren Gatland must choose a new leader for the team that will face the world champions in 2021. As things stand, odds at online sportsbooks have inspirational Wales skipper Wyn Jones favourite. But with Lions rugby tour captain bets available on a number of players, who are the main contenders?
For top international players in Britain and Ireland, captaining the Lions is about as good as it gets. And a look at the list of names that have led the famous touring side over the years shows the best of the best. Paul O’Connell, Martin Johnson, Brian O’Driscoll, Willie John McBride, Sam Warburton – the list goes on. For most them, it’s the pinnacle of their career in many respects. And getting the selection right for a head coach is crucial.
Gatland seems to be considering Wyn Jones, Farrell or Itoje
In June 2019, coach Warren Gatland marked two potential captains to lead the team in South Africa. At a press conference confirming his appointment as head coach, he touted Alun Wyn Jones 2.75 and Owen Farrell 4.5. “Potentially those two players would be the ones you would talk about if you was picking a team right now. But two years away is a long time and you never know what’s going to happen in the game; who comes to the forefront, who has been successful and who are the potential candidates?”
In a more recent interview in November 2019, Gatland talked about the difficulty in making the decision. “The hardest thing about picking a Lions captain is first of all – you’re trying to pick someone who is obviously a quality player and has got a massive amount of respect in their own team and from the players in other teams” he said. “But you’re [also] trying to pick someone who you think if they’re playing to their best and their form is good enough, they’re potentially going to command a Test spot”.
The former Wales boss also added Maro Itoje 4 to the list of possible players who could captain the Lions against South Africa in 2021. “He could be a good captain but you can’t guarantee he’s going to be the best player on the tour so you might end up going for someone else. If you look at the second row, it’s pretty competitive. But he’s absolutely world-class.” So it appears Lions rugby tour captain bets are still on the table. And if considering your wagering options, you can also check out tournament odds here 2021 British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa against world champions.
Lions rugby tour captain bets – former captain’s picks
In May this year, England and Lions legend Martin Johnson stated he believes Jones, Itoje and Farrell are the main contenders to lead the British & Irish Lions in 2021. The 50-year-old played three Lions tours in 1993, 1997 and 2001, becoming the first man to captain the side twice in 2001. He also believes it’s a little too early to make any definite predictions for South Africa. “There are obviously some guys with credits already… Alun Wyn Jones has a lot as a Lion and as Wales captain. Itoje has got a lot as a player, but they’ve got to do it all again” he said. “They (coaches) won’t be picking off 2018, 2019 and 2020. These guys will have to be doing it in 2021.”
Another former British and Irish Lions captain Paul O’Connell believes Owen Farrell is the right man to skipper the side. O’Connell led the Lions during their last series against the Springboks in 2009. And he believes Gatland should select Farrell on account of his attitude and experience against Southern Hemisphere teams. “Owen Farrell has that kind of abrasive attitude … and is very experienced … in terms of taking on southern hemisphere teams, beating southern hemisphere teams. He obviously had that tough experience as well with South Africa in the World Cup so, as we are talking here, he springs to mind”. You can find all players being given odds for Lions rugby tour captain bets in 2021 here at online gambling sites in South Africa.
Lions rugby tour captain bets – other contenders
As mentioned, Alun Wyn Jones 2.75 is the current bookmaker’s favourite for the captaincy. Second row Jones guided Wales to a Grand Slam in 2019, confirming his status as a truly inspirational leader. And Warren Gatland considers him to be playing the best rugby of his career, a view supported by his selection as 2019 Player of the Six Nations.
The one issue is his age. He will be a few months shy of his 36th birthday come the Lions tour, which may play against his chances. But unlike some other former players, Martin Johnson believes age won’t put him out of contention. “You are only looking at playing four or five games on the tour so if he’s got the form, no, it’s not an issue”. Gatland also doesn’t seem to have an issue here, predicting Jones could even go all the way through to the 2023 World Cup. So he remains in pole position for Lions rugby tour captain bets. But who are the other contenders and what are their odds?
Current odds at 1XBET Sportsbook:
|Alun Wyn Jones||2.75|
Lions rugby tour captain bets – Maro Itoje 4
If you are looking for a younger option, the 24-year-old is a frontrunner. He’s a strong bet to be a Test starter, either at lock or on the blindside. At the helm of England U20s during the 2013-14 season, he was Man of the Tournament in the Six Nations. He then went on to guide his country to Junior World Championship glory. The question is whether he will get much senior skippering experience ahead of the Lions tour.
When asked if Itoje could be a potential Lions leader, Paul O’Connell was not yet convinced. “He is obviously a world-class athlete, he is a phenomenal second-row forward… he is always pushing the limits around the ruck, around the offside line. Brilliant at collapsing mauls, brilliant at stopping teams mauling… but I don’t know what he is like in terms of leadership, in terms of leading a group”.
Owen Farrell 4.5
A likely Test starter at either 10 or 12, Farrell certainly has a lot going for him. He has captained England 12 times, including for the bulk of last season. And also has Lions experience, having been on two tours, playing in four Test matches. And at 29, he would be a good age.
But the question is whether it would be asking too much of him to play in a pivotal position in the team, take on goal-kicking duties and be skipper. There’s also a debate over whether he has the right temperament for the job. He is known to have a bit of a short fuse, with his tackling technique making him a target for yellow cards.
James Ryan 9
When predicting the Test side for 2021, Ryan has to be one of the first names on the team-sheet. Having only made his international debut two years ago at the age of 22, he has already established himself as one of the finest players on the world stage.
Imperious in the second row for Leinster and Ireland, he’s a born winner. He too has international captaincy experience, having led his country to the final of the 2016 World U20s Championship. In terms of Lions rugby tour captain bets, maybe the 2025 Lions tour would be a smarter bet. But if you’re looking for a longshot, he’s probably your best chance.
Ken Owens 17
Owens had the honour of captaining the Lions against the Blues in Auckland two years ago. A popular presence both on and off the field during the trip, he would be just the kind of ambassador the role demands. Playing with the Scarlets he is used to leading teams, though his age – he would be 34 – and whether he would be a Test starter could be potential obstacles.
Owens comes in fifth on the list of bookmaker’s predictions for Gatland’s choice of skipper. But with at least a couple of months to go until the selection is made, keep an eye on online sportsbooks in South Africa if you haven’t already put down a wager.