Lions 2013: Alun Wyn Jones could be captain - Martin Johnson

'Tour' captain could work for Lions - Martin Johnson

Two-time Lions skipper Martin Johnson has endorsed Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones as a potential captain for this summer's tour of Australia.

Jones has 70 Wales caps and played in all three Lions Tests in 2009.

"He's played a lot of games, he's done it, he has been out there before with the Lions in '09, so I think he's in the frame," former England captain Johnson told BBC Sport.

"I hear a lot of good things about him," added the 2003 World Cup winner.

Jones, who started the first Test for the Lions against South Africa in 2009 and came on as a replacement in the last two matches in a series the Lions lost 2-1, was part of the Wales team that thrashed England on Saturday to retain their Six Nations title.

The 27-year-old was injured for the first two matches of the 2013 Championship but returned as a replacement in the win away to Italy before starting the final two games.

He did not captain Wales in any of the matches but earlier this week Wales' all-time leading try scorer Shane Williams backed the second row to lead the Lions in Australia.

"I think he's a dead cert to be starting, a dead cert to be going, a dead cert starter in the first Test," added Williams on BBC Wales' Scrum V programme.

Johnson, the only man to captain the Lions twice, first led them on the 1997 tour of South Africa.

"I was in a pretty similar situation in 1997 [as Jones]," Johnson told BBC Sport's Dan Roan. "Phil de Glanville was England captain and I'd only captained my club about 15 times.

"The Lions captaincy has this big aura about it and is a great thing to do, to do well. But ultimately I would rather just play, and win a series, than be captain in a losing series.

"Everyone overplays the captaincy thing. Whoever gets the job will need the support of the other guys around him.

"[Former Wales captain] Sam Warburton wasn't even in the Welsh team for a while [after being injured early in the Six Nations] but he handled himself pretty well in a tricky situation and came back and played well."

Flanker Warburton may have lost the captaincy of Wales but is another contender to lead the Lions Down Under.

The Welshman is also one of the leading candidates to play on the open-side flank in Australia, with England captain Chris Robshaw frequently mentioned as his chief rival for the seven shirt.

"Chris has played fantastically well for England, doing a very difficult job," said Johnson.

"When I was England manager, we picked him as a six and he went to Argentina in 2009.

"But I remember saying to his club coaches at the time, 'if Chris is going to play Test rugby it is probably going to have to be at seven', because England were playing sixes like Tom Croft, and then Tom Wood.

"Chris brought different skills - he is a real hard worker, a real grafter, and his skills go more into playing seven. I think he has done a fantastic job."

Dawson Debates: Matt Dawson tips Jenkins or Best as Lions captain

The Lions are drawn from the four home nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in rugby union - and one school of thought suggests a successful tour needs a blend of nationalities, but Johnson says he does not believe that is the case.

"There is a lot of rubbish spoken about nationalities. You want guys who all want to win," insisted Johnson.

"When I played with the Lions, I wanted to play with the best players, I don't care where they are from."

And he stressed that the key to winning in Australia is "unity".

"The Aussies are good, they're smart rugby players, they'll do everything they can psychologically through the media, it's already started. On the pitch too," added Johnson.

"That's what makes them difficult - you've got to be together, especially now there's no privacy, everyone wants to know your reaction to everything."

The 2013 Lions tour starts with a game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June before heading to Australia for a three-Test series and six additional games against Australian provincial sides.

Top Stories