McGeechan backs Warburton to lead Lions
March 19, 2013
Sam Warburton was back to his best form in Wales' win over England © PA Photos
Sir Ian McGeechan believes Wales flanker Sam Warburton should captain the British & Irish Lions on this summer's tour of Australia.
Warburton was strong favourite for the role prior after leading Wales to the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final and last year's Six Nations Grand Slam but injuries and loss of form saw him overshadowed by other contenders.
Warburton returned to Wales' starting line-up - though not the captaincy - for the last two matches of their Six Nations triumph. And while McGeechan acknowledged England's Chris Robshaw and Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll as strong candidates, he is backing Warburton to lead the Lions.
"For me Sam Warburton has come through strongly," he wrote in the Telegraph. "The biggest question mark hanging over him was his ability to stay fit. It was not an indictment of Warburton for him to be held back from the Wales captaincy.
"(Wales coach) Rob Howley did exactly the right thing. What gets you on the plane for the Lions is playing well. Leadership qualities never go away. Your form or fitness can. His last two games have answered all the questions.
"You would have to talk about Brian O'Driscoll in that captaincy conversation, Chris Robshaw as well. In the first part of the tour, Warren Gatland will give every player an opportunity so you need good leaders every time you put out a side.
"You try to implement the same principles of play so that it becomes second nature to the group. That requires strong, collective leadership. Sam Warburton is my front-runner."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin