‘Lions need abrasive captain’

Last Updated: 04/05/20 7:46pm

Paul O'Connell took the fight to South Africa in 2009
Paul O’Connell took the fight to South Africa in 2009

Paul O’Connell says the British and Irish Lions need an abrasive and confrontational captain for their 2021 tour to South Africa.

O’Connell went on three Lions tours in 2005, 2009 and 2013, captaining the 2009 tour to South Africa where they lost the series 2-1.

“When you go to South Africa you certainly need someone confrontational because that is their DNA,” explained O’Connell on the Will Greenwood podcast.

“You have to have a tactic to beat South Africa, to get around them and to try and trick them but you certainly have to take them on as well.

“In the scrum, in the maul – because if they begin to get on top of you in the confrontational areas, then the belief begins to grow as we saw in the World Cup final against England.”

South Africa won the collision areas against England in the World Cup final
South Africa won the collision areas against England in the World Cup final

A name bandied around in the press as a potential skipper is England lock Maro Itoje. He is yet to skipper England but could follow in the footsteps of Martin Johnson, who famously skippered the Lions before he captained England – leading them to a series win in against the Springboks in 1997.

“He (Itoje) is certainly the type of player you want playing against South Africa,” added O’Connell.

“He is a world-class athlete and a phenomenal second row forward and I like watching him play. He is always pushing the limits and I am surprised he does not give away more penalties than he does.

Itoje battles with Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi at the breakdown
Itoje battles with Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi at the breakdown

“He is always pushing at the rucks, around the offside line and is brilliant at collapsing mauls. He is a real pleasure to watch from that regard.

“But I do not know what he is like in the dressing room, what he is like in terms of leadership and leading a group of men.

“I know a lot of people feel that you need a second rower or a front row forward captaining the side when you take on SA, but a player like Owen Farrell has that abrasive attitude as well.

England's Owen Farrell has the abrasive qualities to take it to the Springboks
England’s Owen Farrell has the abrasive qualities to take it to the Springboks

“He is also very experienced now in terms of taking on SH teams and beating them. He has obviously also had that tough experience against SA in the world cup, so he is someone who springs to mind.”

To listen to all that and much more click play above for the latest edition of the Will Greenwood podcast!

Source : Sky Sports