Two legends of the game, Welsh winger Shane Williams and two-time British and Irish Lions captains Martin Johnson have both endorsed Alun Wyn Jones’ credentials for the Lions captaincy as attentions turn towards the tour of Australia.
Jones is now the 11/4 second favourite to assume the captaincy this summer.
Leading the betting is deposed Wales skipper Sam Warburton, whose fluctuations in form saw him temporarily dropped from his side’s starting fifteen in the Six Nations. However, he resumed his place in time for key matches with Scotland and England.
It is perhaps unsurprising that a rejuvenated Warburton has a leading claim considering it was Warren Gatland who first made the 24-year-old captain of his hugely impressive Welsh side, and the youngest ever captain at a Rugby World Cup in 2011. In addition, revered former Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan has endorsed Warburton’s claims.
Outside of Wales, England captain Chris Robshaw is currently a 5/1 chance, however it’s tough not to believe that England’s mauling in Cardiff won’t have had a damaging impact on his chances, England appearing listless in a 30-3 defeat. With a plethora of high quality back row options available to coach Warren Gatland, the England flanker certainly can’t be assured of a place in the starting fifteen.
Gatland has said in the past that the modern-day skipper simply tosses the coin and holds the hand of the mascot, however with four nations unifying under one badge, the skipper undoubtedly has a greater role to play than usual on a Lions tour.
Should Gatland opt for experience, former Ireland and 2005 Lions skipper Brian O’Driscoll currently sits at 3/1, however this seems far too short for a player who wouldn’t appear certain to start in the Tests, and is clearly not the force of old.
Few would argue with a predominantly Welsh make-up to the side that eventually lines up for the first Test in Brisbane, and that is perhaps what puts the tourists as 8/11 favourites to win the series in Australia, while the home side are 11/10 to repeat their success in 2001.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing