Warren Gatland: British & Irish Lions captain could be left field

Jamie George has impressed in his cameos from the bench for England in the Six Nations

Jamie George has impressed in his cameos from the bench for England in the Six Nations

The Lions will be bidding to win just their second series in New Zealand following their celebrated 1971 triumph when they face the All Blacks in a three-Test campaign in June and July.

Gatland watched Wales narrowly lose out to England at home last weekend in the Six Nations and hailed the game as a wonderful example of the what should be expected from worldwide games.

"He's going to be pretty important for Ireland later on in the tournament and Joe [Schmidt] was cautious last week in that he probably could have played".

"As it stands there are only four weeks before the first Test and you have to give the opportunity to get combinations working together so that players can develop that element of telepathy".

'Long term, no one has a guaranteed place on the team because there is only one hooker who can play. Does Jamie George get a start?

Gatland, who leads the elite of British and Irish rugby to New Zealand this summer, believes Lions tours must be retained in their existing format and even expanded to include more preparation time.

Dylan Hartley's chances of leading the British and Irish Lions to his native New Zealand have "gone backwards" with Alun Wyn Jones likely to captain the tourists, according to former Lions skipper Gavin Hastings.

Gatland has attended four matches during the opening two rounds of the Six Nations and has been encouraged by the competitiveness and attacking intent shown by the home unions.

'He is in with a shout for the Lions, if you are captain of your team and winning games - he is in with a shout. He's got ability to come back into a side. "It was a pretty physical game on Saturday (against Wales) so they made the change early".

'I don't think there is anyone head and shoulders above anybody else but if they all go, Best, Wyn Jones and Hartley, they are all going to have an important job to do, playing the tests or not.

"I though Ali Price did well last week when he came on and he is a slightly different player to Greig and we will just have to make the most of it as it's just the way it is". 'Whoever is the captain it doesn't matter in a way; everyone must pull together and agree on a decision.

"I felt for the Welsh boys and there was a period with 15 minutes to go where they had England rattled and under a bit of pressure".

"I think Jones is showing his characteristics as a leader of men".

Land Rover's brand experience director of global marketing, Mark Cameron, said: "Land Rover shares a renowned rugby heritage with the British & Irish Lions and is proud to have supported them for more than 20 years".

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