THE LIONS captaincy for this summer’s tour of Australia will be a shootout between Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones and Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll – according to Newport legend Brian Price.
Second row Price enjoyed an illustrious career which saw him achieve many highs.
Among his achievements is never losing away to the Wall-abies in three Test matches.
He played in the Lions sides which won the 1966 series 2-0 before captaining Wales to their one and only win away over Australia, three years later.
Price, who skippered Newport to their historic 3-0 win over New Zealand in 1963, believes the Lions will win this year’s rubber over the Aussies.
“I think the Lions will win the series – the talent potentially in the side is good enough to win two Tests at least,” he said.
“We know Warren Gatland is a very good coach and David Pocock is a big loss for them (the talismanic openside flanker is out with a knee injury).
“Whether Kurtley Beale will be around at that time is another question (their star back has been stood down “indefinitely” by the Australian Rugby Union after a recent drink-fuelled late-night bust up with two Melbourne Rebels teammates, their captain, former Wales No 8, Gareth Delve and Cooper Vuna).
“But it’s not going to be easy. Australia are going to fight tooth and nail. They never give up and you never know when you’ve got them beat.”
To win the series, Price, who won 32 caps for Wales and was a member of the 1965 and 1969 Triple Crown sides, the latter as captain, believes they should be led by either Ospreys lock Wyn Jones or Irish legend O’Driscoll.
And for Price, the Leinster star would be his favourite.
“I don’t think I’d look much further than Brian O’Driscoll,” he said. “I think he’s got the experience and he’s a terrific centre.
“I know people say he’s getting injured more often these days but even so he’s still a good player and playing with someone like Jamie Roberts (the 2009 Lions player of the series), he could bring the best out of him again, just as he did on the tour of South Africa four years ago. Brian’s such a good footballer and an outstanding person.”
But if Lions head coach Gatland is going to take a set-up dominated by Wales’ squad which won the Six Nations title, Price thinks it might be wiser to go with Wyn Jones.
“If there’s going to be a lot of Welshmen going, and there will be, and you do need an alternative, I think Alun Wyn is a strong candidate. I wouldn’t go further than those two.”
On his own experiences as a Lions tourist Down Under, Price said: “I think we still hold the record as the only Lions team to go through Australia unbeaten – but we made up for that in New Zealand though! (they lost that series 4-0 after beating the Wallabies in ’66).
“I loved Australia and it’s a great place to tour. Sydney was good for me. I got a chance to sit in the same chair in the changing rooms at the Sydney Cricket Ground that Don Bradman had sat in. I love cricket and that was a real highlight for me.
“We piled the agony on Australia in Brisbane during the second Test which we won 31-0, a very big score in those days.
“But even when we were beating them by 30 points, they kept coming back at us.”
He added: “The Wallabies came back here in 1966 with much the same team and they beat Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
“Rugby used to be pretty low down the totem pole in Australia when I was playing but it’s much better now with big crowds and great stadiums. I’m quite envious of the Lions players going on this tour.”