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The two incredible stats about Jamie George becoming Lions captain

By Liam Heagney

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Warren Gatland’s decision to make Jamie George this weekend’s Lions skipper has brought to light two eye-watering statistics. The forward has not only become the first Englishman to skipper the Lions since Phil Vickery has the honour versus Western Province in 2009, but he has also become the first hooker from England to have ever skippered the famed tourists.  

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It’s an honour that left George struggling for words when he fronted the media virtually on Friday night from South Africa. “I probably don’t think I am able to articulate it into words really,” he said. “A massive moment for me, a massive moment for my family and a hugely proud moment for me – just really looking forward to it now.”

George will become the Lions’ fourth matchday skipper in 2021, something that current tour captain Conor Murray has yet to do. Murray took on the job after tour skipper Alun Wyn Jones was injured when leading the side in their pre-tour departure match in Edinburgh versus Japan.

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RugbyPass Fanzone on whether the Lions tour will be cancelled
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Since then in South Africa the role has been filled by Stuart Hogg against the Sigma Lions, Iain Henderson versus the Sharks and now by George in the Sharks rematch, leaving Murray having to wait until next Wednesday’s game against either South Africa A or the Stormers to lead the side out the first time. 

Gatland explained why George was the best next man up for the captaincy in a match that is the first time since 1910, when Border were taken on twice in four days at East London and King William’s Town, that the Lions have had consecutive matches against the same non-test opponent.

“It’s a great achievement,” said Gatland. “I was incredibly impressed with him four years ago on the tour, not just his playing ability but him as a person, as an individual, so I have a huge amount of time for Jamie from that respect. He has been great on tour. He has developed in terms of experience and leadership. I thought it was a good fit and a reward for someone who has been a great servant to the game. I know he will do a great job.”

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A 30-year-old veteran of 59 England caps, three Lions caps and a seasoned player from Saracens, George felt the added responsibility won’t faze him, especially as the referee he will be dealing with is a familiar face, Wayne Barnes. “I have got a good relationship with Wayne, have a lot of respect for him as a referee and it will make life a lot easier. 

“One of my jobs normally on the field is to develop a relationship with the referee anyway with regards to being the focal point of the scrum, so I will be in his ear a little bit but also trying to give him his space I guess.  

“I am really lucky to have some really great people around me, good leaders, so I certainly will be leaning on them to try and help lead the team around the field. I don’t see my responsibility changing too much, I’m pretty vocal on the field as it is. It’s just do the coin toss and do my normal job.” 

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The two incredible stats about Jamie George becoming Lions captain

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