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Lions will need more than one leader - Wilkinson

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    03 Apr 2017     Getty Images

That's the view of 2005 Lion in New Zealand Jonny Wilkinson.

He told The Rugby Paper that the concentration on who would lead the Lions this year had dominated thinking when the reality was that all top sides had 'leaders all over the place' in Test success.

The 2003 World Cup winner with England said, "Ultimately, every player on that tour needs to be functioning somewhere near the level of captain to come back with victories.

"Martin Johnson led the England team to World Cup success in 2003 but he will be the first to admit that there were a lot of other big, strong characters in that side like Richard Hill and Lawrence Dallaglio etc – who also led with the way they behaved and played on the field. You need a group of experienced players to lead the way.

"In an ideal world, you want your captain on the field where the action is for as much as possible but at the same time, as I have gotten older, I am a firm believer that no position should ever be pencilled in," he said.

Wilkinson said it wasn't until the week before the first game that selectors should know their team. If it was made up too soon before it would have been selected in a different environment to that in which it was going to play.

"You need to get out there [New Zealand] to understand that, and that is why this is so, so difficult," he said.

While there may be a tour captain appointed overall, it was necessary to have three or four players, or more, that were capable of doing the job.

"You cannot go out there with this idea that you have one captain. You can have one captain, who is named captain, but you will need another leadership group of five or six who have the same inspirational effect and are treated as captains also," he said.

Wilkinson said a 'sense of disunity' had caused the Lions to unravel in 2005 and he warned the 2017 team not to repeat those mistakes.

"If there is anything not quite aligned in how you are training, in the spirit of the guys or wherever your mind-set is if there is something not aligned perfectly, it will get absolutely torn apart on the field.

"That is what happened on the Lions tour and it didn't take long because there were those divisions," he said.

The Lions would need to be 'enormously tight' and tighter even than the All Blacks.

"The Lions need to come together for this one-off, amazing event. New Zealand have been together for years and years. Those will be the two journeys that collide.

"The Lions have to draw inspiration from the fact this is six weeks of just one dream and one goal, and it is never to be lived again," Wilkinson said.