Ireland and Lions legend Paul O’Connell has backed England captain Owen Farrell to lead the British & Irish Lions against South Africa in 2021.
O’Connell went on three Lions tours in 2005, 2009 and 2013, captaining the 2009 tour to South Africa where they lost the series 2-1.
“When you go to South Africa you certainly need someone confrontational because that is their DNA,” explained O’Connell on the Will Greenwood podcast.Listen to “Ep 44: Ireland’s Call – Paul O’Connell” on Spreaker.
“You have to have a tactic to beat South Africa, to get around them and to try and trick them but you certainly have to take them on as well.
“In the scrum, in the maul – because if they begin to get on top of you in the confrontational areas, then the belief begins to grow as we saw in the World Cup final against England.”
“[Itoje] is certainly the type of player you want playing against South Africa,” added O’Connell.
“He is a world-class athlete and a phenomenal second row forward and I like watching him play. He is always pushing the limits and I am surprised he does not give away more penalties than he does.
“I know a lot of people feel that you need a second rower or a front row forward captaining the side when you take on SA, but a player like Owen Farrell has that abrasive attitude as well.
“He is also very experienced now in terms of taking on SH teams and beating them.
“He has obviously also had that tough experience against SA in the world cup, so he is someone who springs to mind.”
Sir Ian McGeechan picks seven Englishmen in his Lions 2021 XV
Rugby legend Sir Ian McGeechan has picked his best British & Irish Lions XV for their 2021 tour of South Africa.
Picking his team for the BBC, he’s selected seven England stars in his selection.
15: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14: Anthony Watson (England)
“I’d definitely have Watson. He’s great under the high ball, has unbelievable feet and would be outstanding on hard South African grounds.”
13: Jonathan Davies (Wales)
12: Manu Tuilagi (England)
“At 12, I have to go with Manu. There’s such power there. And you’ll need that.”