O’Connell to lead British and Irish Lions ?

Former England back-row Mike Teague believes Ireland’s Paul O’Connell should captain the British and Irish Lions on this year’s tour of South Africa.

Teague reckons the Munster second-row has the kind of leadership qualities that made Ireland’s Willie John McBride and England’s Martin Johnson, both locks like O’Connell, victorious Lions captains in South Africa in 1974 and 1997 respectively.

“When you look at Willie-John and Martin it is easy to see why their opponents feared them and their team mates wanted to follow them,” Teague, who helped the 1989 Lions win the Test series in Australia, told LionsRugby prior to the HSBC Lions Legends Dinner in Cardiff on Friday.

“I see Paul O’Connell in very much the same mode – a big man and a big player. When you look at his set-piece play, his work rate and the way he carries the ball he has all the makings of a great player,” added Teague.

O’Connell usually plays international rugby in an Ireland side captained by star centre Brian O’Driscoll, the Lions skipper on their ill-fated 2005 tour of New Zealand until he was injured early in the first Test.

But Johnson wasn’t England captain when he led the Lions in South Africa and Teague said of O’Connell: “He is certainly the sort of player that I would have wanted to play with and I’m sure he can be a force with the Lions.”


As in 1997, the Lions will face a South Africa side who are the reigning world champions.

During the November international series in Europe only Wales, of the four ‘Home Nations’ (the others are England, Scotland and Ireland) from which the Lions are selected, managed a win over one of the Tri-Nations, when they defeated Australia.

However, despite seeing the Springboks and New Zealand enjoy unbeaten tours, Teague was optimistic about the 2009 Lions’ chances.

“I think there is enough talent here in the four countries to create a strong enough team to beat the South Africans. But it will be all about how quickly the players can gel,” warned Teague.

“We found our feet pretty quickly in 1989 and the fact we had some tough games before the Test series began against the Wallabies made such a difference to us.”

The Gloucester great added: “I’m sure every game in South Africa will be hard, especially up on the High Veldt.

“That’s why the Lions need a strong, powerful leader and why I feel O’Connell is the man to put at the helm.”

O’Connell will be in Test action again on Sunday when Ireland, who last weekend defeated France 30-21, continue their Six Nations campaign away to Italy in Rome.

The Lions’ tour begins with a match against a Highveld XV at Rustenburg on May 30 while the first of their three Tests against South Africa takes place at Durban on June 20.

Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.