Conor Murray would have made an ‘excellent’ British and Irish Lions captain, reckons Lawrence Dallaglio.
But the 2003 World Cup winner is relieved to have Alun Wyn Jones back in the fold after the veteran lock made a miraculous recovery to book his place on the plane.
Jones (35) suffered an allegedly tour-ending dislocated shoulder against Japan at BT Murrayfield.
But the evergreen Wales forward has completed a remarkable turnaround and will feature on the bench in the sixth and final warm-up match against the Stormers today.
Head coach Warren Gatland opted for scrum-half Murray (32) as his surprise — but temporary — replacement as skipper but Dallaglio, a three-time Lions tourist, says his streetwise nature would have made him an inspired choice.
The former No.8, who starred on the Lions’ triumphant 1997 Tour to the Springbok nation, said: “There are a lot of good leaders there, but they haven’t necessarily had the role of captain before. I think to give them the Lions captaincy as their first role would be pretty challenging, to be honest.
“I think Conor Murray was an excellent choice — he’s a three-time Lion and I think the pressure and the scale of the responsibility off the field is as much as on the field.
“I think he’s picked an individual who understands how to deal with all of that — and is not too far away from the referee to have a quiet word in his ear at key times in the game, which is still quite important in terms of having that working relationship with the referee. I think it was a great choice.”
Dallaglio (48), who is helping to connect rugby fans across the country with the British and Irish Lions through Land Rover’s nationwide rugby themed treasure hunt, added: “The injury was devastating news for Alun Wyn Jones.
“He’s a great man, a great Lion and a great leader.
“The Lions travelling to the home of the world champions, in South Africa, is quite simply one of the biggest things in sport this year.
“That’s exciting — it’s a big moment and the Tour is now well under way.”
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