Rugby Union Expert & Columnist
Maro Itoje can be key part of England's future, says Dewi Morris
Last Updated: 03/12/15 6:51am
I really hope that Eddie Jones does not go down the tried and tested route and instead decides to think outside the box for the new England captain.
Jones has a lot to catch up on when he finally arrives and while I don't think choosing his captain will be a priority, he will need to start looking at his options. First he needs to see who he has to work with - he will only be allowed to change a maximum of 10 players before his first Test in charge against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6.
There are plenty of experienced heads to call upon but do we really want the same old structures? The same old coaches and the same old leaders?
What you want from a captain is that his place is absolutely nailed on - like a Martin Johnson or a Richie McCaw. When you look through the England team can you say that there is one player who is guaranteed a starting place? The answer is no.
I don't think Jones will stick with Chris Robshaw. Ideally he will want to select a captain that will take England to the World Cup in 2019 - I am not so sure he can do that but he will want a captain who is on his own wavelength and will lead England the way Jones wants them to be led.
There are a lot of names being thrown about - Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs and Mike Brown. They are all good players but is this the way Jones wants to get his tenure started?
Lock Joe Launchbury has only just got back from injury and I am not sure what sort of leader he is. He is an outstanding footballer but what is he like in the changing room? We are not privy to that.
Mike Brown at full-back, well is his temperament right to captain England? He 100 per cent wears his heart on his sleeve and sometimes you need a cool head when things get heated. The No 9 jersey is hotly contested and I am not sure Ben Youngs is nailed on so that rules him out.
If Jones wants experience then I think he will go for Tom Wood, who has captained England before. Another option is Dylan Hartley - he would certainly do a job but will his indiscretions count against him?
I think Jones is going to battle to find a captain of world-class potential so perhaps his best option is to develop one.
Maro Itoje is a hell of a call - but he is a young lad who has bags of potential.
I made my England debut in 1988 and I remember sitting at the Petersham Hotel feeling very nervous when I saw Will Carling. He looked as white as a ghost and I remember asking him if he was okay. "They've just made me captain," was his reply.
There were a lot of people who questioned Geoff Cooke's decision to hand the England captaincy to a 22-year-old but Carling became a very successful England captain.
I think Jones will want to play a fast game and someone like Itoje would fit well into his gameplan. He's very quick over the ground, carries well and has a good skill-set to link with both backs and forwards. So if Jones sees his potential as a player, then perhaps he will see his potential as a captain.
Saracens are certainly backing him - he has captained them in the Premiership this season and led the club to the LV= Cup and A League titles. I watched him a lot playing for England U20s where he led them in a triumphant 2015 Junior World Championship campaign too.
I also remember him playing for England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds way back in January. Everyone was focused on a certain Sam Burgess making his Saxons debut but Itoje was incredible in that game.
Itoje can be developed into the sort of captain that Jones wants and England need - he will be an absolute sponge and relish learning the role.
Lancaster did look at him for the World Cup but he was one of the first to be cut from the England training squad in July. Yes he was disappointed but he went back to his club and got even better.
Perhaps he is someone Jones will go for - someone with no England baggage and is the new breed of English forwards who will take them to the 2019 World Cup.
This is a time for England to start afresh - yes he will need his experienced players but Jones will be planning for the future and I think Itoje is a key part of that future.
Itoje can be developed into the sort of captain that Jones wants and England need - he will be an absolute sponge and relish learning the role. Itoje is a guy who has come up through the Saracens Academy - he likes detail and he likes structure. It is obvious that he is one heck of an athlete and is very articulate and a bright lad.
It will be a bold move if Jones does goes down this route but what a way to shake things up and start with a clean slate.