Sunday 23 July 2017

Peter O'Mahony in line for Test captaincy as Rory Best leads midweek team

Peter O'Mahony is presented with a Taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon, after captaining the Lions to a victory over the New Zealand Maori in Rotorua on Saturday Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Peter O'Mahony is presented with a Taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon, after captaining the Lions to a victory over the New Zealand Maori in Rotorua on Saturday Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The prospect of Peter O'Mahony leading the Lions in the first Test grew yesterday as Warren Gatland picked Alun Wyn Jones on his bench for the midweek game against the Chiefs.

O'Mahony led the side to an emphatic win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday and did very little wrong in his own performance alongside Sean O'Brien and Taulupe Faletau.

The Munster skipper was replaced on the hour-mark by Sam Warburton, who took over the captaincy and has also been rested for tomorrow's game against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Gatland sang the praises of the back-row combination that was so impressive against the Crusaders and the Maoris and will be tempted to retain all three.

He could yet restore tour captain Warburton to the starting XV, but if he doesn't then Jones is likely to be next in line after he led the side in the decisive third Test four years ago.

However, he is under serious pressure for his own place and is likely to miss out to Maro Itoje and George Kruis, which would mean O'Mahony would be the next man up.

The Welsh second-row is one of two locks on the bench for tomorrow's game and much will depend on how long he spends on the field.

Alongside him are all six controversial newcomers to the squad, who have come straight into the match-day 23 to help protect the Test team.

Back-three players Liam Williams, Jack Nowell and Elliot Daly all have a chance of forcing their way into Test reckoning, while Iain Henderson is in flying form and can move above Jones in the pecking order with a big display.

For skipper Rory Best, CJ Stander, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne it's about doing enough to remind Warren Gatland that they can perform if called upon in the remaining Tests.

The Chiefs are down most of their front-liners after their involvement with the All Blacks and the Maoris last weekend and the midweek side should pick up their first win.

Verdict: Lions.

Irish Independent

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