After claiming that he does not see Maro Itoje as a national team captain, England coach Eddie Jones says he has changed his views on the second rower’s leadership potential.
Itoje was touted as a potential option for the British & Irish Lions captaincy earlier this year, but that was given to Wales veteran Alun Wyn Jones. Even when Jones suffered a shoulder injury against Japan, Lions coach Warren Gatland gave Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray the captaincy until Jones recovered and joined the team on the tour of South Africa.
When Owen Farrell was injured during the November internationals, Courtney Lawes took over as captain, flanked by vice-captains Tom Curry and Ellis Genge.
In an extract from his new book on leadership, Jones had outlined that he thinks Itoje is too “inward-looking” to help develop younger players in the England squad.
However, in a wide-ranging interview with ‘Brian Moore’s Telegraph’ podcast, Jones says seeing how Itoje has changed over the past six months has changed his views.
“I’ve never seen a guy mature as much as he has in the last six months, so it’s been a really good period for him,” Jones said. “I’m going to contradict myself – and contradiction’s a big part of life – but I’ve got no doubt in the future he will captain England. Whether that’s in my time or someone else’s time.
“He is really moving in the right direction and it was interesting the role that he played in the team during the autumn. He took on the role responsible for team communication. It is when the team get together to talk about things they need to. And no one’s done a better job than he has done, so I’m really pleased with the way he is moving.”
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