Gatland backs Lions absentee

Warren Gatland has backed Ryan Jones to do a great job captaining Wales despite his surprise omission from the 2009 Lion squad that toured South Africa. [more]

Gatland backs Lions absentee

Warren Gatland has backed Ryan Jones to do a great job captaining Wales despite his surprise omission from the 2009 Lion squad that toured South Africa.

Having previously been touted as a possible Lions skipper after a fabulous campaign in 2008, Jones was one of the most high-profile absentees when Ian McGeechan announced his 37-man touring party in April.

And with the Ospreys back row missing out on selection for Britain and Ireland’s elite, there had been rumours that Gatland would pass the honour of leading Wales on to a new contender rather than keeping faith with the 28-year-old former Celtic Warrior.

But Gatland has resisted that option and instead praised Jones for his past contributions and his current form ahead of the autumn clashes with New Zealand, Samoa, Argentina and Australia.

"I’ve always said we are very happy with Ryan,” said Gatland, who was forwards coach for the 2009 Lions.

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"I’ve been very happy with the way Ryan has captained the team over the last few years – he has developed well. He has done a good job since he’s been captain. 

"But the bottom line is when you pick a captain you want a player who is good enough to make the starting XV. Loose forward is a position we’ve had some players performing well. 

"I thought his performances in the two recent European Cup games were a couple of his best, and I thought he performed well against Glasgow (in the Magners League). 

"He carried really well up there, and we think he is coming back into some form and that is good to see."

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