Warren Gatland coy on Lions captaincy but admits it could be a 'left field' pick

Owen Farrell's (centre) stocks have risen after a dominant display for England in beating Wales.
Shaun Botterill/Getty-Images

Owen Farrell's (centre) stocks have risen after a dominant display for England in beating Wales.

Warren Gatland revealed the Lions captain for the coming tour of New Zealand could be 'left field' and potentially someone who isn't skipper of their national team.

Owen Farrell has thrown his name into the mix after a commanding display in England's 21-16 victory over Wales in the Six Nations last Saturday (Sunday NZ time) when regular captain Dylan Hartley was substituted after just 47 minutes in Cardiff.

The Lions coach has kept his cards close to his chest when asked who might be skipper when he names his touring squad on April 19.

Warren Gatland names his Lions skipper in April.
David Rogers/Getty-Images

Warren Gatland names his Lions skipper in April.

Alun-Wyn Jones has replaced Sam Warburton, who was 2013 Lions captain in Australia, as Wales skipper, with both in contention as well as Hartley, Farrell and Ireland's captain Rory Best.

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When asked if his captain would have the same role for their national side, Gatland told Sky Sports: "Not all. Ideally [they would have] some captaincy experience.

"If you're looking at the squad, you're picking the test team after the squad is selected and you're looking at the captain and asking if that person would be likely to be selected in a test XV?

"That could be a swaying factor but there are no guarantees at the moment. It could be someone from left field."

Gatland said he would pick a squad first, and then a captain second, with the Lions tour starting against a New Zealand provincial XV in Whangarei on June 3. 

"Everyone's obsessed about the captaincy, aren't they? Look, I've said all along there's some quality people in contention," he told Sky Sports.

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"The first thing for us is to pick the squad then look at it and ask who could captain the side in New Zealand.

"It would be a great honour for that person who does captain the team but the message to that person is: 'Fantastic, well done - but you've got to earn your place in that test side'.

"If someone else is playing better than you in New Zealand, they'll be selected ahead of you."

The Lions' second tour game - one of five against the Super Rugby franchises - is against the Blues at Eden Park on June 6.

They'll also play New Zealand Maori in Rotorua and three tests against the All Blacks.

 - Stuff

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