Lions captain not assured a starting spot in Warren Gatland's side

Warren Gatland says the captain of the Lions squad won't be guaranteed a starting spot.
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Warren Gatland says the captain of the Lions squad won't be guaranteed a starting spot.

Half a dozen players are in line to earn the captaincy for the Lions when they tour New Zealand, but coach Warren Gatland says there is no guarantee the team's captain will play.

"The captain's form has to be good enough," he told the BBC.

"I think whoever that person is has to rise to that; the message is it's a great honour to captain the Lions but your form has to be good enough to be selected for the tests.

"When you are looking at a captain, you want to be reasonably confident he is going to be starting in the tests. But it is not a guarantee, it is just part of the criteria."

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While Gatland was taking an open approach to deciding who would lead his side, former Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward said he thought the choice should be an obvious one.

"You need one person who is going to be in the test team without a shadow of a doubt - a Brian O'Driscoll, a Martin Johnson, a Lawrence Dallaglio type of figure," Woodward told the BBC.

The 61-year-old, whose Lions side were beaten 3-0 on the previous tour visit to New Zealand in 2005, highlighted Wales flanker Sam Warburton as a stand-out candidate.

"He knows Warren well, he's been a successful Lions captain already. Would he be in the starting team? Absolutely, the first name on the sheet."

Warburton was named captain of the 2013 Lions team, but Gatland would not be drawn on suggestions of Warburton being given the role for a second time.

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However, he said Warburton was one of the players being considered for the role, despite losing the Welsh captaincy to Alun Wyn Jones prior to the Six Nations.

"I think Sam has had a terrific Six Nations, he has played really well and I am really pleased for him.

"He's a different captain to some other players. He leads by example. He doesn't say a lot but he has had that experience.

"He's one of the guys potentially in contention, definitely. In my mind there's probably half a dozen people but we haven't really narrowed that down yet. The most important thing is to pick the squad first and then talk about the captain afterwards."

Gatland was expected to name the Lions squad next month.

 - Stuff

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