Bookmakers have revealed who they believe is the favourite to captain the British and Irish Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa.

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Owen Farrell and not Alun Wyn Jones is being tipped to get the nod.

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While AWJ is a traditional favourite of British and Lions coach Warren Gatland, his age profile may make him a longer shot for the role.

Irish bookmakers Boyle Sports have made Farrell a 9-4 favourite to land the prestigious gig, while Jones takes second favourite at 5-2.

Third in the running according to the bookies is Maro Itoje, who is rated at odds 11-2 after a brilliant Six Nations.

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Realistically, a sub-par Six Nations for Wales and the fact that Alun Wyn Jones will be a few months shy of his 36th birthday may have played against his chances.

There of course, COVID-19 allowing, will be another Six Nations in 2021, not to mention the tail end of the 2020 tournament mooted for later this year.

Sam Warburton captained the tour last time out, where the Lions managed a draw in their 2017 tour of New Zealand.

This week the Olympics were pushed back a year due to the global coronavirus pandemic and will now start on July 23, 2021, the day before the first of three tests on consecutive weekends between the Lions and world champions Springboks.

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“The priority right now has to be the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic,” Ben Calveley, British and Irish Lions Managing Director, told Reuters on Monday.

“We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport. There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo, so fans should not miss out on any action.

“We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions.”

The clash in dates will narrow the options for the Springbok Sevens side that will compete in Japan, with the likes of wing Cheslin Kolbe, who won bronze in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, otherwise occupied with the 15-man game.

Other players such as loose forward Kwagga Smith and centre Ruhan Nel, who might have hoped to make both teams, will now have to make a choice.

The decision to stick to the dates of the Lions tour, which starts on July 3 with the first of five matches against provincial and invitational sides before the opening test on July 24, at least brings some welcome certainty to arguably the biggest rugby attraction outside of the World Cup.

The World Rugby calendar has many question marks remaining though, with the 2020 Six Nations yet to be completed and the July internationals for this year under threat and likely to be scrapped.

– additional reporting AAP

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