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Gatland warned not to rush skipper decision

Alan Irvine and Sir Ian McGeechan

Sir Ian McGeechan has warned incumbent British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland not to pick his captain until just before the tour squad announcement.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has yet to be confirmed as Lions coach, but Lions-Tour.com understand he is set to be confirmed as the head coach for the 2013 tour shortly.

Warren Gatland featured as an assistant coach to McGeechan on the 2009 tour to South Africa and Geech has warned his former assistant to choose his captain as close as possible to the tour.

Speaking at an event for official British & Irish Lions sponsor FirstCape, McGeechan said “Some players have come through last season, but the second season often challenges them in a different way,”

“We need to see which of them are really able to kick on. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to selecting the squad, and it’s the same with the captaincy.

“There are people like Chris Robshaw of England coming through and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up with another 12 months under his belt.

“Sam Warburton is an obvious choice and he already has a relationship with Warren. You need to see how someone is playing, his demeanour and rapport with players and support staff. You have to be disciplined and make a late call on it.

“In 2009 we didn’t make the call until late April, which gave me the time to speak to all the international coaches. It also gave me the chance to speak to Paul O’Connell and spend some time with him. He was superb as our captain in 2009.”

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