Lions captain not guaranteed place in test side - Gatland

Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:36am GMT

(Reuters) - Being chosen to captain the British and Irish Lions for their tour of New Zealand will be a great honour, coach Warren has said, but no guarantee of a place in the starting test side.

The Lions embark on a 10-match tour of New Zealand in June with the squad to be named in April and Gatland said there were up to six players in contention for the captaincy.

The New Zealander said that form will be the main factor in determining who plays in the three test matches.

"The captaincy is a great honour, but whoever the captain is, there'll be no guarantee he plays," Gatland told the BBC.

"The captain's form has to be good enough. 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."

Gatland selected his then Welsh national captain Sam Warburton to lead the Lions to Australia in 2013, then chose lock Alun Wynn Jones to lead the side for the third test in Sydney when Warburton was injured.

While Warburton was replaced by Wyn Jones as captain of the national team before the Six Nations, Gatland said the loose forward could still be a contender for the Lions leadership role again.

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

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland before the match. Ireland v England - Six Nations Championship - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - 18/3/17  Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne
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