Calmness and authority are key characteristics for would-be Lions captains

Last Updated: 01/02/13 10:12am

Former British & Irish Lions Fergus Slattery and Ieuan Evans identified power, authority and - perhaps surprisingly - calmness as some of the key attributes of Lions captains.

The already intense debate about who will captain the Lions on their tour of Australia this summer is set to deepen further with the kick-off of the Six Nations this weekend.

Wales' Sam Warburton, England's Chris Robshaw and Ireland's Jamie Heaslip, along with former Lions captains Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell, are among those being touted for the role in Australia.

And in a Rugby Club special, former Lions Slattery, Evans, Lawrence Dallaglio and Doddie Weir reflected on the players who led their tours and discussed the key characteristics of a Lions captain.

Slattery, who toured with the Lions in 1971 and 1974 under skipper Willie John McBride, said: "The first thing I have to say about Willie John is that he was a big brute.

"And that has an amazing influence on what people do. The great thing about Willie John is that he was exactly the same on the bus as he was in the dressing room as he was on the pitch. He was consistent and had what I called a calm power force.

"He didn't rant and rave; was very fair and very even to all players under his command. He was a terrific guy and what he got off everyone was respect. For any captain you have to have respect, you have to have it at the beginning and at the end.

"That is the one thing Willie John got off everybody. The calm, strong steadiness that Willie John gave us was terrific."

Evans, a three-time Lion, was part of the last two successful Lions tour in 1993 and 1997 under captains Finlay Calder and Martin Johnson.

And he says both players belied the cliché of a verbose captain who ranted and raved in the dressing room - though they were all the more intimidating for it.

"Both of them had very similar characteristics in that they were very quiet but exuded menace," he told the Rugby Club. "They frightened the living daylights out of me. Trying to gel four teams into one in a very short time to try to win a test series when the odds are stacked against you, the captain plays a critical role in that.

"And that respect. Certainly Finlay had that in 1989 in a tour that could have gone off the rails.

"It was the same with Johnson in 1997. He had that calmness, that authority, that power was there and really helped gel us together. He had a huge responsibility on and off the pitch to hold that tour together."