Peter O'Mahony and Sam Warburton both made history on Wednesday night. O'Mahony was named by Warren Gatland as the 11th Irishman to captain the Lions in a Test match. For Warburton, it was a piece of unwanted history. He becomes the first Lions squad captain not to start the first Test in 87 years.
The possibility of O'Mahony being captain was well flagged. He did, of course, captain the Lions against the Maori All Blacks last weekend. The surprise was the 27-year-old being named captain despite the presence of Alun Wyn Jones in the starting line-up. It had been expected that Jones would be next in line for the job after his Wales teammate.
Simon Thomas, for Wales Online, believes it is a case of Gatland choosing continuity.
Given he has got the nod, it’s maybe a little surprising Jones hasn’t been handed the captaincy, but the coaches have gone for continuity after the fine job O’Mahony did last weekend.
He does also feel that O'Mahony being captain has much to do with an Irish teammate: Sean O'Brien. The Leinster man's form meant he had to start with Warburton losing out.
The reason O’Mahony is skipper has much to do with this man.
So compelling has O’Brien’s form been out here that there was to be no way in for tour captain Sam Warburton even though he is now over his injury issues and has shaken off the rust.
Writing for The Telegraph, Will Greenwood said that O'Mahony has qualities which 'demanded' a place in the team.
He has been a monster since landing in New Zealand. His leadership and his toughness demanded selection. Another key line-out operator alongside the other world-class jumpers in the pack.
Just an incredible story. On the brink of not making the tour in February-March to suddenly finding himself standing up to the haka as captain.
He also had a good word for O'Brien saying that 'few people will have any arguments about his inclusion' at Warburton's expense.
The Guardian's Rob Kitson writes that the selection of O'Mahony was the right one given his and others' form.
Not starting Itoje is clearly a big call but his impact from the bench will be significant. As for Elliot Daly on the wing ahead of George North, and Owen Farrell at 10, it hardly confounds the evidence of this tour to date.
Naming Sam Warburton, the tour captain, on the bench belongs in the same category. That said, not even O’Mahony would have dreamed even three weeks ago he would be captaining the Lions in the first Test against the All Blacks. He started against England in the Six Nations Championship match in Dublin only because Jamie Heaslip was injured in the warm-up but his strength of character, determination and lineout prowess have caught the eye of every Lions coach.
Finally, Clive Woodward in his column for the Daily Mail said that O'Mahony was the obvious choice for captain.
First the captaincy. I called Peter O'Mahony as captain last week and he is exactly the right man for the job. He had to start because the back row of Taulupe Faletau, Sean O'Brien and himself is the form combination and the one to cause the All Blacks the most problems.
Having secured that starting role he was the obvious captain. He is tough, inspirational and savvy and has the total respect of all four nations.
That is no slight on Alun Wyn Jones, an illustrious Lion whose experience will be invaluable. The Wales lock will have the task of emptying the tanks and coming off after 50 minutes to be replaced by Maro Itoje. O'Mahony, barring injury, will play the whole game.
There's little reaction from the Scots who are more concerned with their lack of players in the Test 23 than O'Mahony captaining the side.
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