Stuart Barnes has named his Lions XV for 2021, with Rhys Webb one of two surprise Wales calls. Owen Farrell, Finn Russell and James Ryan also make the cut.
Writing in The Times, Barnes said: “While Owen Farrell leads England, Warren Gatland has the freedom to follow his own muse. He will surely want to break from the Eddie Jones way and stamp the side with his own mark.
“England will be expected to supply most of the Test team but to make Itoje skipper would be his call. Where better than South Africa?
“By making Itoje captain, the Lions would be playing their part in healing many historical wounds. For all the legends surrounding the 1974 Lions, it should be remembered they toured when South Africa was a sporting blacklist. Apartheid was ignored, to the Lions’ disgrace.
“To me, Itoje is simply a great rugby player. In South Africa, Itoje would attain legendary status but following in Martin Johnson’s footsteps he could leave behind an even larger print.”
Stuart Barnes’ Lions XV for 2021: