Bolter O’Ma­hony ‘has drive to lead Lions’

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

DONNCHA O’Callaghan reck­ons force­ful Ir­ish back rower Peter O’Ma­hony is a vi­able con­tender for the Lions cap­taincy if Sam War­bur­ton fails to re­cover from a knee in­jury in time for New Zealand.

Wales flanker War­bur­ton has emerged as favourite to lead the Lions for a sec­ond time, while Alun Wyn Jones, Owen Far­rell, Rory Best and Dy­lan Hart­ley have their sup­port­ers.

How­ever, O’Callaghan be­lieves Mun­ster cap­tain O’Ma­hony’s work ethic and self­less na­ture, epit­o­mised in a sen­sa­tional dis­play for Ire­land in last month’s Six na­tions vic­tory over Eng­land, make him the per­fect lead­er­ship can­di­date.

O’Callaghan told TRP: “If you want a guy who’s up for it ev­ery day, Peter O’Ma­hony’s your man. He would be a bolter but know­ing him from a young age at Mun­ster, he’s a stan­dard­set­ter and a driver, and he never wastes a ses­sion.

“He brings ev­ery­one with him, he is all ‘team’ and has done a fan­tas­tic job with Mun­ster. He parks his own ego and that was shown in the Eng­land game when he threw down a mas­sive per­for­mance. That’s him the whole time and he would add to the Lions lead­er­ship.”

O’Callaghan added: “You want ruth­less guys like that who know this tour is the pin­na­cle of their ca­reers and are self­ish enough to make vic­tory hap­pen. Guys like O’Ma­hony (be­low) are of an age where they want to push on and know no other way bar win­ning.”

As a for­mer Test lock capped 94 times by Ire­land, O’Callaghan ac­cepts that none of his sec­ond row suc­ces­sors are likely to make the ini­tial Lions cut, con­demn­ing Iain Hen­der­son, Don­nacha Ryan and Devin Toner to standby du­ties.

How­ever, one man he be­lieves must be on the plane at all costs is Saracens li­ne­out leader Ge­orge Kruis, who he rates as the lead­ing lock in Europe.

O’Callaghan said: “The sec­ond row is in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive and while you’d like guys like Devin and Don­nacha to push on, at this mo­ment there’s so much cream in the po­si­tion that top qual­ity play­ers like Richie and Jonny Gray are also likely to miss out.

“The big one in the sec­ond row I want to see is Ge­orge Kruis, be­cause there’s a guy who’s re­ally set the stan­dards over the last two or three sea­sons.

“Maro Itoje gets all the credit he de­serves, and quite rightly so, but watch­ing a guy like Kruis is a real eye-opener and he’s the bench­mark in the North­ern Hemi­sphere and I’d want him to be given time to put his hand up.

He added: “The Lions re­ally have to look at the 23 they use and I would take Sean Cronin for his im­pact off the bench. Like Ben Te’o with Eng­land, he adds some­thing ev­ery time he comes on and against New Zealand, that’s go­ing to be so im­por­tant.”

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