Gatland downplays Lions captaincy
March 24, 2013
Warren Gatland says the British & Irish Lions captain might not even start against Australia © Getty Images
Warren Gatland has played down the importance of the captain's role when the British & Irish Lions head to Australia in June by revealing that the chosen player may not even be in his starting line-up.
The tourists' head coach has still not revealed exactly who is likely to lead his side, but has made it clear that getting strength and depth across the whole of his starting XV is more important than choosing the correct captain.
"I am not getting hung up about the captaincy," Gatland told The Sunday Times. "Look at the quality and depth we have in certain positions and the leaders we will have. The captain's name won't be the first we write down for any match, there are no guarantees, we just pick the best starting team. At no stage of the tour will we be choosing the captain if there is someone better in that position."
Although Gatland is keeping quiet about his potential leader for the tour he will now undoubtedly have a clearer picture of who will wear the armband following this year's Six Nations campaign. A number of players vying for the captaincy were under the spotlight during the tournament, such as England captain Chris Robshaw, Wales flanker Sam Waburton and Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll.
While the captain's position is still unfilled though, Gatland also made it clear that players involved in the latter stages of this year's French Top 14 championship are unlikely to be included as the competition clashes with the beginning of the tour. That decision could rule out the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Steffon Armitage and Andrew Sheridan.
"We would really want all the party to travel out together as one," he said. "We are not really thinking outside the box for anyone at the moment. I have carte blanche to pick who I like but you don't want to go on a Lions tour without players from each country. We would all feel a bit uncomfortable with that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
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