Warren Gatland will take his time before announcing his captain for the British and Irish Lions
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 22/03/13 10:34am
Warren Gatland: Won't rush the captaincy decision
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland insists he won't be rushed into naming his captain for the tour to Australia.
Speculation over who will lead the tourists has continued to intensify, especially since the end of the RBS Six Nations.
Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Chris Robshaw, Brian O'Driscoll, Rory Best and Gethin Jenkins among those touted as possibilities.
However Gatland claims naming his squad on April 30 remains his No 1 priority.
"There is a huge amount made of the captaincy," said Gatland, who was at St Michael's School in Dublin to attend the launch of the FirstCape coaching Master class competition with Tesco Ireland.
"Everyone has their opinion but we have to make the right decision. We won't be rushed into it, we will take our time. We've six/seven weeks before we name the squad.
"Whoever we will select I am sure they will do a great job. We get the squad first and then decide after that."
Gatland, though, has been quick to highlight the fact that being named tour captain is no guarantee of a starting place in line-up for the first Test on June 22 in Brisbane.
He added: "Whoever we do select as captain then they need to know and be under no illusions that their form needs to be good enough on tour.
"If someone else is playing better in their position then whoever the captain is for the tour when pick the Test side we will be picking the best XV."
Among the runners and riders to lead the side is former Ireland skipper O'Driscoll, who previously led the side on the 2005 tour to New Zealand.
However the talented centre has been criticised for his recent form, while he has been banned for three weeks after stamping on Italy flanker Simone Favaro.
Gatland, though, has given his backing to the 34-year-old.
"Brian has been on three Lions tours and I'm sure he is determined to go on a fourth," said Gatland.
"Once he has served his ban I'm sure he will be right back at it. He is definitely in contention but there is a lot of competition and options."