Does the Wales' captaincy switch actually enhance Warburton's Lions case?

The Irish Times rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley has made that point

BY Raf Diallo 20:40 Wednesday 12 April 2017, 20:40 12 Apr 2017

Sam Warburton in 2013 ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

A knee injury for Sam Warburton will keep him out for six weeks and puts a little seed of doubt regarding his Lions captaincy chances. 

Ahead of the naming of the squad next week, the former Wales skipper should be fully fit however for the tour and remains the favourite to lead the British and Irish Lions into the tour of New Zealand in June. 

The flanker was Lions captain four years ago during the tour to Australia.

Warburton was replaced as Welsh international captain by Alun Wyn Jones in January ahead of the 2017 Six Nations, with coach Rob Howley reasoning that, "Sam has led Wales more times than any other captain and had great success in the role. However, we want him to concentrate on his game and to be the best player he can be.

"We had conversations during and since the autumn with Sam. No player is guaranteed their place in an international team and we want Sam to be playing his very best rugby and he agrees this is the best way forward."

But that move from the Welsh captaincy could be a benefit for the tour if Warburton retains his place from 2013 according to The Irish Times' rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley.

"In terms of the candidates, I was surprised that Sam Warburton once was so far out in the betting just because the Welsh captaincy had been passed on to Alun Wyn Jones," he told Off The Ball.

"In actual fact, I think the fact that he's been rested from the captaincy for Wales enchances his chances of being captain for the Lions because it's going to refresh him for the role.

"He was 24 four years go - the youngest ever captain I'm right in saying when he was chosen to lead the squad then. I would have thought it makes even more sense to make him captain again now. I think he's still the outstanding candidate because he's also shown that he can play at 6 throughout the Six Nations and regain his form.

"Even now with this six week absence because of a medial ligament strain, if anything, might be a well timed rest for him." 

Off The Ball

Newsletter

The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week