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Warburton captaincy is "no surprise" - Wilson

21st April 2017

Sam Warburton's credentials and leadership qualities meant his appointment as British and Irish Lions captain came as "no surprise" to Cardiff Blues head coach, Danny Wilson.

Warburton also captained the iconic side during the 2013 winning Test series in Australia, and follows Martin Johnson as the only players to lead a tour party on two separate occasions.

Wilson insists the Cardiff Blues back row will be as determined as ever to make sure he leads the Lions to a successful Test series against the All Blacks.

“I’m obviously thrilled for Sam, and probably not surprised. I think Sam’s credentials as a captain and a leader are there for everyone to see and he was a prime candidate to be the Lions’ captain after doing it last time around,” said Wilson. 

“He leads by example, first and foremost, and I think that’s what a lot of boys respect in a leader. On and off the field, the way he conducts himself is second to none.

“In a shared leadership model, like we have and the Lions will have, Sam will use the other leaders around him to gain the relevant information to make the correct decisions. That’s another huge plus of Sam, is the way he does that. For those reasons, he’s in a good place to do a good place.

“He’s a humble individual and he will one to go out there and do the job. This, for Sam, will just be the start of the process and even though it’s a great honour I know he’ll want to be a winning Lions captain.”

Wilson has been delighted with the Welsh international’s contribution to the Blues’ campaign this season, and believes Warburton, along with the squad’s other leaders, can have a big impact on some of the region’s most promising youngsters.

“It’s great for us that he’s come through this region, from his rugby in the academy right through to where he is today. It’s fantastic for us at Cardiff Blues that he represents that and he is on the highest scale in terms of being a Lions captain, not once but twice, which is a fantastic achievement but one which he’ll take in his stride.

“He’s been excellent this season. We’ve had a good run of Sam being fit and I think that’s helped him in terms of his performances for Wales. 

“He’s gone in off the back of a series of games for us and being available for us, without having the injury problems he’s had in the past. That’s been great for us and great for Sam to go into a Six Nations campaign in form and playing well, and holding his hand up for, what’s lead to, a Lions captaincy.

“He’s a role model. We’re lucky here to have the likes of Sam, Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams, Blaine Scully, Matthew Rees, to mention just a few, a few leaders in our environment who these young guys can learn a lot from. 

“The youngsters coming through now have got good role models in out region and hopefully they can push on, put in some good performances and be available to challenge for selection with our senior boys.”

With the Lions facing a hard-hitting schedule in New Zealand, injuries are inevitable, and there are likely to be further call-ups to the touring party. Wilson has backed the likes of Gethin Jenkins to stake a claim for a late call-up, should the opportunity arise. 

Wilson said: "Gethin in particular, played really well during the autumn for Wales and then had an unfortunate injury which obviously would’ve affected his ability to play enough rugby to potentially be seen.

"I think Gethin has played extremely well over the past four games, and certainly would’ve put his hands up and has been unlucky not to be selected. | would back him, if there would be an injury or a bump, that he’d be a prime candidate to join that tour."