BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?



  • Gatland hinted at this about 6-8 weeks ago, talking about a "tour captain".

    In most recent tours the captain has been as a player unquestionably one of the first names on the teamsheet: Martin Johnson, BOD, Paul O'Connell.
    On 2 tours the captaincy has changed due to injury (2005, 2013) so it is possible that the captain will have to change regardless of the elevated-focus on the role.

    I think that Warburton is not one of 5 almost-guaranteed first-XV players (Furlong, Billy Vinipola, Murray, Sexton, Farrell).
    Is he a much better captain than Rory Best or Alun-Wyn Jones? No.
    Is he more of a game-changing player in the back-row than Sean O'Brien or CJ Stander? No.

    I think the captain's role is one area that Gatland has (rightly) hedged his bets. Warburton was Lions captain in Australia in 2013, more than that he already has "series-winning Lions captain" on his CV.
    So if SOB or CJ are blasting through their opponents ahead of the tests, I would not be surprised if Gatland and Howley tap Sam on the shoulder the week before the first Test and say "We'd like a quiet word ..." ©2013-SA-tour.
    BOD on how he found out he was dropped in 2013
    “I got the tap on the shoulder on Wednesday morning when I was at the coffee machine. Gats and Rob Howley wanted to have a quiet word.
    I realised a 'quiet word' in the meeting room was not a good sign. They were not about to ask me to be captain. That would have been said to me there and then.”

    It would go like this - Gatland/Howley: "Sam, it is a shame about your form (or that CJ/SOB on tour are streets ahead of you). We don't want to leave you out, but the other guys are better than you.
    It is not as if you won't ever have been a Lions Test captain - you've literally got the series-winner captain t-shirt.
    So be the nice guy that you are and for the team take it on your considerable chin that you will not be captain in the First Test."

    And Sam will say "Oh, OK Warren, Rob. I accept that you know best. Will I be on the bench?"
    "Yes, ... against the Chiefs, the Māoris and the Canes"

    As an Irish fan, I can say that it would not be the most controversial Lions Test non-selection that Gatland has ever made.

    The only difference to the 2013 line that they would have given to BOD is that this time they won't have to say "We can't pick you because we (Welsh coaches) think two Welsh players are better than you".

    They might even have to say to Sam "We can't pick you because we think two Irish players are better than you". (Or 2 Welsh, or 2 English - but not the 1 Scot (=Hogg; Seymour born in USA), nor the 3 Kiwis).

    If the tour-captain had been someone who had never played in a Lions test (Best, Hartley) or only ever had a Test as a replacement captain (Wyn-Jones), it might have been more destructive/disruptive to have not given that tour-captain the role of the test-captain.



  • BOD fans must still be really bitter the Lions won, having dropped a has been and replaced him with a can do...



  • @Bones I didn't agree with the selection of Jonathan Davies, but the Lions won the 3rd test in 2013 because their pack dominated (not hard against the Wobblies, it just took 2 matches too long to do it!).
    They could have had any international centre that day and still won.
    At half-time it was 19-10. They would probably have won even if a player had been sent off in 41st minute.

    Aus / Lions
    44% / 56% Possession
    3 (3) / 10 (0) Scrums won (lost)
    64 (4) / 78 (5) Rucks won (lost)



  • @Bones said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    BOD fans must still be really bitter the Lions won, having dropped a has been and replaced him with a can do...

    Wouldn't be a proper lions series without BOD being dropped by a kiwi and being bitter about it .



  • @Bones said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    BOD fans must still be really bitter the Lions won, having dropped a has been and replaced him with a can do...

    My sentiments exactly



  • @Megweya said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    @Bones I didn't agree with the selection of Jonathan Davies, but the Lions won the 3rd test in 2013 because their pack dominated (not hard against the Wobblies, it just took 2 matches too long to do it!).
    They could have had any international centre that day and still won.
    At half-time it was 19-10. They would probably have won even if a player had been sent off in 41st minute.

    Aus / Lions
    44% / 56% Possession
    3 (3) / 10 (0) Scrums won (lost)
    64 (4) / 78 (5) Rucks won (lost)

    Get over it.

    Davies was the correct selection.

    If Warburton isn't selected by Gatland and the player who is selected in his stead is instrumental in a Lions win, then once again it will be the correct selection.



  • @jegga said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    @Bones said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    BOD fans must still be really bitter the Lions won, having dropped a has been and replaced him with a can do...

    Wouldn't be a proper lions series without BOD being dropped by a kiwi and being bitter about it .

    Comedy Gold 🙂



  • @MiketheSnow said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    @jegga said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    @Bones said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    BOD fans must still be really bitter the Lions won, having dropped a has been and replaced him with a can do...

    Wouldn't be a proper lions series without BOD being dropped by a kiwi and being bitter about it .

    Comedy Gold 🙂

    I like the triple interpretation of that. Bod, the Kiwi and the Lions fan being bitter about it.



  • @Megweya I think you may be correct about a 'tour captain' approach but not in the way you describe.

    I don't think Gatland wants his selections painted into a hard place with a locked in captain or the possible feelings/disruption that goes with that.
    I thought he may use a leadership team type approach but I guess it is tradition to name someone as the figurehead.
    Internally though, the leadership team approach will probably be taken and Warburton will announce to the squad up front that all test places are up for grabs including his own. Putting his head on the block at the start would be respected by the squad.



  • If there is any ambiguity between Warburton and Gats on the requirements for selection and how a test captain would be named then Gats is a poor coach.

    Given their personal history, the previous series win and Warburton's lacklustre form/injury there is no reason this should be a difficult chat. Warburton was probably selected as tour captain from the candidates largely because he will be the easiest to drop from a match day 22.



  • I just don't believe O'Brien is the better 7 so I don't think Warburton will be absent when the test team is read out, fitness permitting.

    Maybe if Gats doubled down on the power game and picked Stander at 7 I could see Sam omitted. Sure would be fun to watch but don't think it's going to happen.



  • I found this to be informative. Check out at 3:48 regarding the reason Warburton was chosen as captain.



  • @rotated said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    If there is any ambiguity between Warburton and Gats on the requirements for selection and how a test captain would be named then Gats is a poor coach.

    Given their personal history, the previous series win and Warburton's lacklustre form/injury there is no reason this should be a difficult chat. Warburton was probably selected as tour captain from the candidates largely because he will be the easiest to drop from a match day 22.

    Warburton's form in the 6N was pretty damn good. I don't see form as an issue. Problems are that firstly he is injured and may not play serious rugby before the tour. Secondly he is seen as Gatland's favoured son and being selected as captain whilst injured could be seen as sending a message that Gatland will go with his old favourites. Thirdly, is he the best 7 available? Tipuric offers something extra as does SOB albeit differently. A case could be made for any of the three, but Gatland has nailed his colours to the mast here. Barring injury Warburton will be 7.



  • @Catogrande agree. Thought Warburton was back to some of his best form in the 6Ns. If Gats reverts to type when it comes to gameplan, I can't see how he could leave Warburton out. SOB and Tips are good players but they are different and Warburton is a key cog in Gats style.



  • @Megweya said in BIL Lions - Warburton: not the Test captain?:

    Gatland hinted at this about 6-8 weeks ago, talking about a "tour captain".

    In most recent tours the captain has been as a player unquestionably one of the first names on the teamsheet: Martin Johnson, BOD, Paul O'Connell.
    On 2 tours the captaincy has changed due to injury (2005, 2013) so it is possible that the captain will have to change regardless of the elevated-focus on the role.

    I think that Warburton is not one of 5 almost-guaranteed first-XV players (Furlong, Billy Vinipola, Murray, Sexton, Farrell).
    Is he a much better captain than Rory Best or Alun-Wyn Jones? No.
    Is he more of a game-changing player in the back-row than Sean O'Brien or CJ Stander? No.

    I think the captain's role is one area that Gatland has (rightly) hedged his bets. Warburton was Lions captain in Australia in 2013, more than that he already has "series-winning Lions captain" on his CV.
    So if SOB or CJ are blasting through their opponents ahead of the tests, I would not be surprised if Gatland and Howley tap Sam on the shoulder the week before the first Test and say "We'd like a quiet word ..." ©2013-SA-tour.
    BOD on how he found out he was dropped in 2013
    “I got the tap on the shoulder on Wednesday morning when I was at the coffee machine. Gats and Rob Howley wanted to have a quiet word.
    I realised a 'quiet word' in the meeting room was not a good sign. They were not about to ask me to be captain. That would have been said to me there and then.”

    It would go like this - Gatland/Howley: "Sam, it is a shame about your form (or that CJ/SOB on tour are streets ahead of you). We don't want to leave you out, but the other guys are better than you.
    It is not as if you won't ever have been a Lions Test captain - you've literally got the series-winner captain t-shirt.
    So be the nice guy that you are and for the team take it on your considerable chin that you will not be captain in the First Test."

    And Sam will say "Oh, OK Warren, Rob. I accept that you know best. Will I be on the bench?"
    "Yes, ... against the Chiefs, the Māoris and the Canes"

    As an Irish fan, I can say that it would not be the most controversial Lions Test non-selection that Gatland has ever made.

    The only difference to the 2013 line that they would have given to BOD is that this time they won't have to say "We can't pick you because we (Welsh coaches) think two Welsh players are better than you".

    They might even have to say to Sam "We can't pick you because we think two Irish players are better than you". (Or 2 Welsh, or 2 English - but not the 1 Scot (=Hogg; Seymour born in USA), nor the 3 Kiwis).

    If the tour-captain had been someone who had never played in a Lions test (Best, Hartley) or only ever had a Test as a replacement captain (Wyn-Jones), it might have been more destructive/disruptive to have not given that tour-captain the role of the test-captain.

    No love for Scots legends Finlay Calder and Gav Hastings in your opening paragraph? This is a shamefully anti Scottish post.