O’Connell fancied to gain chance to gain Lions captaincy redemption
Having the opportunity to captain the Lions for more than one series is an honour that has only previously been bestowed on Martin Johnson, but punters believe that Paul O’Connell is set to be given a second chance of his own.
O’Connell led the team when losing 2-1 in South Africa and it is 5/4 that he is the first Lions captain to ever be given the chance to avenge a previous defeat, with Johnson winning his first tour as skipper.
Simply making the plane would be a major achievement for the 33-year-old, as he has missed over a year with firstly a knee problem and then a bulging disc in his back which needed surgery to repair.
However, he bounced back with a scintillating display of ball-carrying, line-out dominating and general leadership to help Munster beat Harlequins at the Stoop to reach the Heineken Cup semi finals.
Not only did this display almost single-handedly make him a shoo-in on the Lions plane, it also shortened his price to be named captain.
Previously, there has been no clear favourite to gain this honour, with Welsh duo Sam Warburton and Alun-Wyn Jones among those most fancied, with another Irishman Brian O’Driscoll and England captain Chris Robshaw the other front runners.
Meanwhile, the second row is one area where the Lions look short of obvious Lions travellers, boosting the chances of O’Connell inclusion, especially as coach Warren Gatland has stated that injured players would be given the chance to prove their credentials before the final squad was announced.
Another boost to the chances of O’Connell taking on the Lions captaincy is the success of forwards as skippers over backs, which is a negative to the prospects of O’Driscoll.
Three of the last four successful Lions captains were forwards, alongside four of the last five skippers of nations to win the Rugby World Cup.
It would certainly be something if he could follow in the footsteps of legendary Irish lock Willie John McBride and avoid defeat in a Lions series, with a 3-0 Lions success priced at 10/3.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.