Itoje can be my Lions leader, says Gatland
Warren Gatland has hinted that Maro Itoje could captain the Lions on next year’s tour of South Africa.
The four previous Springbok series have all been captained by locks — Willie John McBride, Bill Beaumont, Martin Johnson and Paul O’Connell — and Gatland claimed Itoje has all the credentials.
‘He’s an intelligent player and an intelligent man and has been incredibly successful in his career,’ said Gatland.
‘He would definitely be in contention as one of the possibilities as captain.
‘It’s about picking the squad and then saying who do we think will be captain material. Ideally, it’s somebody who has come from a team that’s been pretty successful. The next question is if we were picking the Test team now, is there a good chance this person would make that Test team?’
Owen Farrell and Alun Wyn Jones have also been touted for the role. The Lions are scheduled to take on the Springboks in July 2021 — although the three-Test series could be pushed back until later in the year.
‘Itoje is the name that keeps cropping up,’ added Gatland, who has been named as coach of the last six decades by Rugby World and has given his thoughts in Tuesday’s 60th anniversary edition.
‘You look at that and go, well, there are some pretty good second rows around and he’s not bad. You have Courtney Lawes and George Kruis. How’s Alun Wyn Jones going at that time? There’s James Ryan. There’s no doubt about Itoje’s quality.’Daily Mail