Wednesday, October 27News That Matters

Former Lions captain O’Connell backs Farrell to be skipper for the summer tour of South Africa

Owen Farrell has been backed to captain the Lions this summer – by the last man to lead a British and Irish tour of South Africa.

Paul O’Connell was the skipper in 2009 and he said: ‘I like Owen Farrell. He’s a real stand-out leader for me. 

‘He’s pretty experienced, he’s been on two tours already and has a big leadership role with England. It wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for him.

England's Owen Farrell has been backed to captain the Lions in South Africa this summer

England's Owen Farrell has been backed to captain the Lions in South Africa this summer

England’s Owen Farrell has been backed to captain the Lions in South Africa this summer

‘In terms of experience and an appetite to lead, he’s the real stand-out. Owen is a guy who enjoys leading and enjoys taking ownership. He’s almost coaching.

‘As a team, England didn’t play as well as they’d have liked in the Six Nations. Is that a reflection on Owen Farrell? I don’t think so.’ 

O’Connell, now Ireland’s forwards coach, argued that the Welsh favourite for the Lions captaincy should be spared the responsibility, adding: ‘If Alun Wyn Jones isn’t captain, he doesn’t change how he behaves. 

‘He’s another stand-out candidate, but you just wonder sometimes if a guy who has captained an awful lot… if it would be good for him not to be captain for once.’

Paul O'Connell (right) was the Lions skipper for the tour of South Africa in 2009

Paul O'Connell (right) was the Lions skipper for the tour of South Africa in 2009

Paul O’Connell (right) was the Lions skipper for the tour of South Africa in 2009