2013 Lions: Sam Warburton 'not ready' to lead - Guscott

 

British and Irish Lions legend Jeremy Guscott says Wales flanker Sam Warburton is "not ready" to lead Warren Gatland's 2013 squad in Australia.

Former England centre Guscott says agreeing not to take the captaincy during Wales' 2013 Six Nations title success counts against Warburton.

"Personally, I just don't think Sam's ready to be captain of the Lions," Guscott told Sport Wales.

Guscott favours veteran Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll to lead the Lions.

Gatland will name his captain and squad on Tuesday.

Despite Wales retaining the Six Nations title a year after winning a Grand Slam, Guscott believes only six of them are "nailed on" Lions Test players - and Cardiff Blue Warburton is not among them.

Brian O'Driscoll

The stand-out [2013 Lions captaincy] candidate in my view is Brian O'Driscoll because he's been on a few tours

Three-time Lions tourist Jeremy Guscott

Instead Guscott tips Warburton's Welsh rival Justin Tipuric to win the battle for the open-side flanker berth.

If Guscott had his way, tight-head prop Adam Jones, locks Alun Wyn Jones, scrum-half Mike Phillips, wing George North and full-back Leigh Halfpenny would join Tipuric as Lions Test starters.

Guscott, who dropped the winning goal as the Lions recorded a 2-1 series victory against South Africa in 1997, said: "I don't think it will be dominated by the Welsh side.

"Warburton is not nailed on to be in that side. If I think of who's nailed on for Wales - Leigh Halfpenny has to play.

"In my book [Justin] Tipuric has to play, Adam Jones has to play, Alun Wyn Jones has to play. After that, oh yeah, George North.

"Jamie Roberts didn't fill himself with glory in his performances throughout the Six Nations; he certainly hasn't for Cardiff [Blues].

"Ian Evans had a great tournament, Gethin Jenkins could be called in by Toulon, the jury's out on [hooker Richard] Hibbard.

"Mike Phillips - yeah, he'd be in my team so that's six; [fly-half] Dan Biggar is unlikely to go.

LAST 10 LIONS CAPTAINS

  • 2009 Paul O'Connell (Ire)
  • 2005 Brian O'Driscoll (Ire)
  • 2001 Martin Johnson (Eng)
  • 1997 Martin Johnson (Eng)
  • 1993 Gavin Hastings (Sco)
  • 1989 Finlay Calder (Sco)
  • 1983 Ciaran Fitzgerald (Ire)
  • 1980 Bill Beaumont (Eng)
  • 1977 Phil Bennett (Wal)
  • 1974 Willie John McBride (Ire)

"Then the big one's the captain. You look at the contenders - Sam Warburton, Chris Robshaw, Paul O'Connell, Alun Wyn Jones, Rory Best, Brian O'Driscoll.

"There's not going to be 100% agreement on that from all nations.

"And what Warren's got to be conscious of is the players agree with his selection because you don't want those kind of murmurings, grumblings, going on before the tour.

"Personally, I just don't think Sam's ready to be captain of the Lions. He's proved beyond doubt that he can captain Wales, winning the Grand Slam.

"How many captains of any country in the home unions can say they've done that? Very few.

"But if the rumours are true that he turned down the captaincy in the last campaign, then that puts a massive doubt over his selection as Lions captain. I think that would be dangerous.

"If the Welsh squad players know that he turned that down - and we're only speculating at the moment - then I think it would be even difficult for them to swallow.

"On the outside they'd say 'yes', but on the inside it would be 'oh, you didn't want to captain us in the Six Nations, how can you captain the Lions?

"And I think for me, the stand-out candidate in my view is Brian O'Driscoll because he's been on a few tours.

"He was captain in 2005, but it ended badly.

"He has global respect and that doesn't mean you should have selection and you're guaranteed [of] your first-team Test spot.

"But I just think you arrive with Brian O'Driscoll - everybody in Australia knows him; everybody in world rugby knows him."