Gatland claims Warburton's rapport with referees as key factor in captaincy decision
British and Irish Lions head coach claims Wales captain's relationship with officials can have a 'positive influence' on the tour
Warren Gatland has claimed that Sam Warburton’s rapport with referees was a key factor in his appointment as captain for the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
The New Zealander noted that the flanker’s conversation with official Steve Walsh during the RBS Six Nations decider against England in March was a prime example of his ability to connect with referees, and Gatland also highlighted his good relations with South African official Craig Joubert, who will be in charge of the second Test Down Under on June 29.
Gatland said: “There are only two or three players in the world that referees would allow to (talk to them). It's the ability Sam has to communicate with referees and when I saw that against England. it really stuck in my mind that this guy could do a job for us and potentially have a positive influence on the game with his relationship with referees.
“I think Craig has got a really good relationship with Sam,” continued the Kiwi. “Having spoken to Craig I know that he regards Sam as one of the best sevens in the world. He regards him on a par with (Richie) McCaw and (David) Pocock in terms of the way he is at the breakdown, his physicality and the way he carries.
"So when a referee makes these comments to you in terms of enjoying his leadership and saying that he's got a good rapport with him, it makes it a kind of easy decision for me to make in terms of appointing him as captain."
Warburton will lead the squad on the tour that gets underway on June 1, with a match against a strong Barbarians side in Hong Kong that will include the likes of Sergio Parisse, Imanol Harinordoquy and Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans.
Following that, they will play five warm-up matches before the test series gets under way, with a clash against the Melbourne Rebels between the First and Second test.
England vs Japan: Watch the moment Laura Bassett's own goal saw England knocked out of the 2015 Women's World Cup
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Manchester United goalkeeper spotted arriving at Madrid airport
Manchester United transfer news: Robin van Persie is being sold by the club without his knowledge, claims former team-mate
Wimbledon 2015: Dustin Brown knocks Rafael Nadal out of the championship
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 Amber Roof: Sister of Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof launches fund-raising appeal for wedding and honeymoon
- 3 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 BP hit with record $18.7 billion fine over Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS