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'I think he’ll make us proud' - O'Mahony set to be named Lions captain

The 27-year-old is expected to be confirmed as Test captain tomorrow.

Murray Kinsella reports from Hamilton

PETER O’MAHONY IS set to be named the Lions’ Test captain tomorrow and his Munster, Ireland and Lions team-mate CJ Stander is backing the blindside flanker to do the tourists proud.

Peter O'Mahony celebrates winning O'Mahony is the front runner for the captaincy. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

O’Mahony led the Lions in last weekend’s warm-up win over the Māori All Blacks and he is now expected to be confirmed as the captain for the first Test against the All Blacks in Eden Park on Saturday.

Confirmation of his appointment would cap a truly remarkable rise for O’Mahony, who only started the final game of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign against England after Jamie Heaslip was injured during the warm-up.

O’Mahony was outstanding that day and following an excellent season with Munster – having returned from a year out of the game due to a ruptured ACL – the Cork native was selected to tour with the Lions.

He was superb against the Crusaders two weekends ago and after leading the Lions last Saturday, he is now set to follow in the footsteps of the likes of fellow Irishmen Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell and captain the Lions in a Test game.

“I think he’s a great leader,” said Stander after the Lions’ 34-6 win over the Chiefs. “He’s my captain at Munster and he works hard for the team. He’s a good leader and he shows it. His heart is on his sleeve and I don’t think there’s an awful lot of leaders like him.

“He shows it on the pitch and he shows it in his aggression. He’s a great captain and we all know that, and I think he’ll make us proud.”

Welshman Sam Warburton is the Lions’ tour captain but is expected to miss out on making the Lions’ starting Test XV having struggled with an ankle injury, while Alun Wyn Jones – another former Lions Test skipper – could miss out on selection in the second row to Maro Itoje and George Kruis.

British and Irish Lions Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien O'Mahony would be a popular choice to captain the Lions. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Having earned the respect of his Lions team-mates and head coach Warren Gatland, O’Mahony would be a popular appointment as Test captain.

Importantly, the Lions have other leaders within their team, with the likes of Owen Farrell, Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien and Kruis among the influential figures.

That would make life easier for O’Mahony, but Stander believes his Munster team-mate is ready for the overall responsibility.

“I think there are a lot of leaders in the group and everybody helps each other and pushes each other on,” said Stander. “There’s four or five voices in the squad.

“Hopefully this weekend we’ll see how the squad pushes him on. I think he’s ready to step up. He doesn’t even have to step up – he’s ready to do it.”

Warren Gatland will confirm his captain and starting XV for the first Test at 8pm Irish time on Wednesday.

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