Sunday 20 May 2018

'He will make us proud' - Peter O'Mahony set for Lions captain's role and the All Blacks are wary of his influence

 

Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Warren Gatland announces his Lions team for the first Test against New Zealand at 8pm tonight (Irish time) with Peter O'Mahony likely to be named captain of the side.

The All Blacks are well aware of the potential skipper's reputation ahead of the Eden Park opener on Saturday.

The midweek side got their first win of the tour over the Chiefs in Hamilton yesterday, but few of those involved are expected to be part of the team named tonight.

If the Lions coach holds to form, then there will be no place for tour captain Sam Warburton or Alun Wyn Jones in the starting XV, but both are expected to be named on the bench. That would leave Munster's O'Mahony as the obvious candidate after he led the side to an impressive victory over the Maori All Blacks last weekend.

New Zealand flanker Sam Cane is fully aware of what the Ireland international has to offer.

"He's obviously a very strong lineout forward, an uncompromising type of player who leads by example," the openside said.

He's got quite a rugged approach to the game and he does it very well. I'm sure if he's the skipper and he's on the side of the scrum, we'll do our best not to let him disrupt us."

O'Mahony's Munster colleague CJ Stander reckons he's one of a kind. "He's a great leader," he said. "He's my captain at Munster and he works hard for the team. His heart is on his sleeve and I don't think there's an awful lot of leaders like him.

"He shows it on the pitch and he shows it in his aggression. He's a great captain and we all know that, and I think he'll make us proud. Hopefully this weekend we'll see how the squad pushes him on. I think he's ready to step up. He doesn't even have to step up. He's ready to do it."

Gatland's other big calls appear to be around his backline make-up, where Ben Te'o is favourite to keep Johnny Sexton on the bench, and the back-three where George North is expected to start despite his lack of form to date.

Irish Independent

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