Belfast Telegraph

O'Mahony hasn't got carried away with captaincy: Murray

 

By Jack de Menezes

You would have received good odds on backing Peter O'Mahony and not Sam Warburton to lead out the Lions in their first Test against the All Blacks, but that's exactly what will happen at Eden Park today.

Warburton was deemed to have not played enough since injuring his knee in April, with the form of Sean O'Brien and the leadership of O'Mahony convincing Warren Gatland that he had a sufficient back-up plan.

The Lions are not shy of a leader or two. O'Mahony will join Wales captain Alun-Wyn Jones in the starting XV, with Warburton among the replacements, while Ireland and Scotland skippers Rory Best and Greig Laidlaw are among those who won't feature.

Yet what is it that makes O'Mahony the right man in Warburton's absence? Four years ago ahead of the decisive third Test against Australia, Gatland trusted Jones to lead his side, and that was thought to be the case again until Warburton rediscovered form in the Six Nations.

But one other player also got back to his best on the final weekend, with O'Mahony's man of the match display against England putting him right back in the frame for Lions selection. Now he is the team captain, but that hasn't changed him one bit.

"It's really refreshing to see that it hasn't changed him at all," his Ireland and Lions team-mate Conor Murray said. "He hasn't tried to be a different person since he's been named captain. He's just gone about rugby the way he usually does.

"His messages are thought out and clear. They have meaning behind them. He doesn't talk all the time. He talks when it's needed, and people respond to that."

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