British & Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones named captain
Warren Gatland has called upon Alun Wyn Jones who was his trusted lieutenant for Wales for so many years to marshal the tourists to a series victory.
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones will lead the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa.
Coach Warren Gatland has called upon the man who was his trusted lieutenant for Wales for so many years to marshal the tourists to a series victory.
Alun Wyn Jones named captain of the British & Irish Lions
Jones will follow in the footsteps of fellow locks Willie John McBride in 1974, Martin Johnson in 1997 and Paul O’Connell in 2009 by captaining the Lions in South Africa from the second row.
The captaincy honour cements Jones’ place as one of the all-time greats of the game.
The series against the Springboks will be his fourth Lions Tour in a row while he already has nine consecutive Test appearances to his name, a feat that hammers home his longevity and continued impact.
It will not be the first time Jones has led the Lions, with the towering lock captaining the tourists in the decisive third Test win in Sydney against the Wallabies in 2013.
Having driven Wales to their sixth Six Nations title since 2005 earlier this year, it’s not hard to see why Gatland called the decision to name Jones as his skipper “relatively easy”.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with him for a number of years, he was the only player in the Welsh squad who was there before me, so he’s had a huge amount of experience,” he said.
“I think the last few years he’s done an incredible job in terms of leading Wales. He has captained a Lions team in the third Test in 2013, which was a pretty good performance.
“For me, picking someone who comes from a team that’s won the Six Nations, who has respect, has been there and done that, it was a relatively easy decision.”
Gatland says that Jones will still need to earn his place in the Lions starting lineup.
“When I rang him and asked him, he was pretty honoured to be able to accept it,” Gatland added.
“But there’s also the caveat and the conversation that, ‘Your form needs to be good enough to be selected in the Test side’ and there’s no one better to have that conversation with than Alun Wyn.
“He fully understands how much competition there is in that second row and that if someone is playing better than him, he could be on the bench or someone else might captain the Test series.
“We’re going to need other leaders. We’re going to need someone else to captain games that he’s not involved in, but I think he thoroughly deserves it.
“He’s a player that leads from the front, sets a great example in training, he has a huge amount of respect, he’s been there done that, a world record-holder in terms of Test caps.”
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