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Rory Best a contender to captain Lions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/11/2016 Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Andy Farrell has endorsed Rory Best as "a contender" to captain the British and Irish Lions next summer.

Ireland assistant Farrell is expected to be named as Lions defence coach when boss Warren Gatland confirms his back room staff on December 7.

And former England coach Farrell has hailed Ireland skipper Best as among the nucleus of stars who can be under serious consideration to lead the Lions' three-Test tour to New Zealand.

Best will win his 100th Ireland cap in Saturday's autumn Test clash with Australia in Dublin, amid firm backing over his Lions credentials from Farrell.

"There's no doubt that he's a contender when he's doing as good a job as he is for his national team and his national team is doing pretty well," said Farrell, of Best's potential candidacy as Lions captain.

"He's a big part of that so he has to be right up there doesn't he?"

Wales flanker Sam Warburton and England hooker Dylan Hartley have so far been the bookies' front-runners to assume the Lions captaincy next summer.

But since assuming Ireland's armband Best has led Ireland to a first-ever victory over the Springboks on South African soil in June, and also a maiden win over New Zealand this autumn.

Ulster's evergreen hooker Best has been roundly hailed as producing the finest rugby of his career, despite hitting 34 years of age. And Farrell insisted the gritty farmer's son has the cool demeanour that marks out the sharpest leaders.

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