Donal Lenihan tells the Rugby Club why he would not have picked Sam Warburton as Lions captain

Last Updated: 03/05/13 10:07am

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Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named Sam Warburton as captain but Donal Lenihan says the Welsh skipper would not have been his first choice.

At 24 years old, Warburton will be the youngest man to captain the British and Irish Lions when they head to Australia later this month.

"It is vital that the captain and the coach are on the same page and know each other intimately," said Lenihan, who toured with the Lions three times as a player and once as a manager.

"I think it is very difficult to captain a Lions tour when you have not been on a Lions tour. The Lions tour is completely different to anything you have ever experienced before."
Donal Lenihan

"From that point of view I can understand why Warren Gatland has selected Sam. But I have to be honest that I would not have selected him.

"Brian O'Driscoll would have been my choice. I think it is very difficult to captain a Lions tour when you have not been on a Lions tour. The Lions tour is completely different to anything you have ever experienced before.

"There are different demands - even more so in the professional era. No country goes on a tour for eight, nine or ten matches anymore - which was something that players in the amateur era were used too.

"So from that point of view I think it is going to be very difficult for him - he is very lucky in that there are a lot of experienced captains in the group with Paul O'Connell and O'Driscoll.

"I just thought that in terms of that it is O'Driscoll's fourth tour and he has come out already and said that he does not want to go and see the Sydney harbour bridge; he is not going just to get on the test team, he wants to go and win a Test series. I cannot think of anyone in that Lions squad who wants to drive a Lions Test win more than Brian O'Driscoll.

"That would be my personal choice but Sam Warburton is an extremely impressive guy and I have been impressed with the way he has handled himself after being sent-off in the semi-final of the World Cup."

But Robert Jones, who was part of the last Lions series win in Australia in 1989, stuck up for his countryman and said it is vital that everyone gets behind Warburton.

"Sam is a very honest man and by his own admission he has said that he will be looking for some of the more experienced players within the squad to help him out," explained the former Wales scrum-half.

"But he leads by example; he works hard and he expects players around him to work hard.

"There is a lot of talk about who should have been but we know who is, and we have to get behind him and support him. The players will and I think Sam Warburton is the sort of guy who over a period of time can get the best out of what he has got."

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