Alun Wyn Jones is reportedly poised to be named as the next captain of the British & Irish Lions by Warren Gatland later this week.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Alun Wyn Jones is expected to take up the mantle as Lions captain for the side’s upcoming tour to South Africa.
Jones, who is the current Wales captain and most capped international player, is set to be named ahead of Englishmen Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, who were previously tipped for the position.
Former coaches of the 35-year-old Jones have backed the decision, describing him as an ‘outstanding candidate’ for the job. Sean Holley, who coached Jones at Ospreys, drew comparisons between the Welsh lock and Lions great Willie John McBride.
‘When you listen to the stories of Willie John McBride, we are going to be talking about Alun Wyn Jones like that in the future. He is the outstanding candidate in terms of experience and as a captain who led an out-of-form new-regime Wales to a [Six Nations] championship this year against all odds.
‘It just shows the presence and the leadership qualities that he has on the field. He has done it at club, international and Lions levels and there are not many other candidates who you would take to South Africa who ticks all those boxes.
‘A captain must also be worthy of his place and you have to say on form there is undoubted consistency in his performance and his endurance and durability are unquestioned.
‘Alun Wyn also knows what Gats wants, having worked with him for so long. Gats knows Alun Wyn. If the squad is living in a bubble, he wants someone he can trust who can say, “Right boys, we are doing this”. When he talks, everyone listens and he instils confidence and belief in people.’
Former Wales and Lions defence coach Shaun Edwards was also full of praise for the second rower.
‘His credentials are there for everyone to see, he has won five Six Nations titles and is an incredibly competitive lad who everybody respects.
‘He is also very good at mixing with families because he is a family man himself. He always made a fuss of my kids, so there is a softer side to him which you need sometimes on a tour. But you are there for the rugby first and foremost and his record speaks for itself.
‘I know this about great players. I had the honour of coaching people like Lawrence Dallaglio, Simon Shaw, Gethin Jenkins and Sam Warburton and when the big games come, they come to play. Alun Wyn Jones is definitely one of those.’
Jones’s competitive drive is something former teammate Adam Jones hailed as being a crucial element of his leadership.
‘When Wales have been under pressure, he has always risen to the challenge and Gats knows that and I can’t see it being anyone else. I can’t look much past Alun Wyn. It is going to be a tough old tour because of the Covid challenges and it is about how he can keep everyone together.’