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 Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton