Paul O’Çonell has said that Owen Farrell should captain the British and Irish Lions team for their tour of South Africa. O’Connell was the coach for the last tour of the Springboks in 2009. O’Connell feels that Farrell is a veteran of two tours and something that will help Warren Gatland. Alun Wyn Jones is currently the front runner after doing well against Wales. O’Connell feels that Farrell’s experience of 108 Tests for Ireland and seven for the Lions will prove to be key.
“I like Owen Farrell as a captain. He’s a real standout leader for me,” O’Connell said. “You can hear so much of what the players are saying during games with matches being played without crowds, You can hear Owen barking at his own players and encouraging them. A lot of it is about getting off the line and the physical side of the game, but a lot of it is also coaching people into position as well.”
“He’s pretty experienced, he’s been on two tours already and he has a big leadership role with England. It wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for him,” he added. “In terms of experience and an appetite to lead, he’s the real standout although there are plenty of guys who could do the job. it’s about picking guys who are willing to take ownership of what the plan is when you pick a captain or leaders for the Lions tour. Owen is a guy who enjoys leading and enjoys taking ownership. He’s almost coaching.”
Farrell admitted that his performance was well below par in the Six Nations where England finished a disappointing fifth. O’Connell felt that this was a shortcoming of the team as a whole. He said that the lack of opportunities that Farrell has got to play himself back into form is worrying. Every Lions tour to South Africa has been led by a second row since Willie John McBride in 1974.