Guscott questions Warburton's credentials
April 27, 2013
One leading bookmaker has stopped taking bets on Sam Warburton being named the British & Irish Lions' captain © PA Photos
British & Irish Lions legend Jeremy Guscott does not believe Wales' Sam Warburton is ready to lead the elite tourists to Australia later this year.
Warburton is the favourite to be named as the Lions' skipper when head coach Warren Gatland announces his squad on Tuesday but Guscott, a three-time Lions tourist, has his doubts about the flanker's leadership credentials and sees Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll as a better choice. "Personally, I just don't think Sam's ready to be captain of the Lions," Guscott told BBC Sport Wales.
Guscott acknowledges that Wales' recent Six Nations triumph will be reflected in Gatland's 36-38 man selection but does not expect them to dominate the Test side. He has also tipped Warburton's Wales rival Justin Tipuric to lay claim to the Lions' openside flanker berth for their eagerly-anticipated three-Test series against the Wallabies.
"Warburton is not nailed on to be in that side. If I think of who's nailed on for Wales - Leigh Halfpenny has to play," he said. "In my book [Justin] Tipuric has to play, Adam Jones has to play, Alun Wyn Jones has to play. After that, oh yeah, George North.
"Jamie Roberts didn't fill himself with glory in his performances throughout the Six Nations; he certainly hasn't for Cardiff [Blues]. Ian Evans had a great tournament, Gethin Jenkins could be called in by Toulon, the jury's out on [hooker Richard] Hibbard.
"Mike Phillips - yeah, he'd be in my team so that's six; [fly-half] Dan Biggar is unlikely to go. Then the big one's the captain. You look at the contenders - Sam Warburton, Chris Robshaw, Paul O'Connell, Alun Wyn Jones, Rory Best, Brian O'Driscoll.
"There's not going to be 100% agreement on that from all nations. And what Warren's got to be conscious of is the players agree with his selection because you don't want those kind of murmurings, grumblings going on before the tour.
"He [Warburton] has proved beyond doubt that he can captain Wales, winning the Grand Slam. How many captains of any country in the home unions can say they've done that? Very few. But if the rumours are true that he turned down the captaincy in the last campaign, then that puts a massive doubt over his selection as Lions captain. I think that would be dangerous.
"If the Welsh squad players know that he turned that down - and we're only speculating at the moment - then I think it would be even difficult for them to swallow. On the outside they'd say 'yes', but on the inside it would be 'oh, you didn't want to captain us in the Six Nations, how can you captain the Lions? And I think for me, the stand-out candidate in my view is Brian O'Driscoll because he's been on a few tours.
"He has global respect and that doesn't mean you should have selection and you're guaranteed your first-team Test spot. But I just think you arrive with Brian O'Driscoll - everybody in Australia knows him; everybody in world rugby knows him."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry
Are the margins between the teams in the Six Nations getting smaller year-on-year? Huw Richards gives some answers