It is not known whether Scott Johnson has been inducted into the philosophy department at the University of Woolloomooloo, as famously depicted by John Cleese and the rest of the Monty Python team, but Scotland's interim head coach from Down Under found himself quoting Plato yesterday as he named his captain for Saturday's Six Nations opener at Twickenham.
In announcing the retention of Kelly Brown in the skippering role he fulfilled during Scotland's run of three autumn defeats, Johnson said he had consulted his assistants, Dean Ryan and Steve Scott, before deciding to re-appoint the Saracens flanker. "I said to them, and quoted Plato of all people: 'Choose someone of leadership qualities who does not want to lead.' I quite like that. When you look at Parliamentarians these days, I think he got it right. That's a pretty good basis.
"Captaincy is about deed in my book, not Churchillian oratory. I like doers. I don't like the big talkers. The best captains I have worked with have been people who get their hands dirty, who get down and do it and show the way. I have a reluctance for callers to be captain because they're talking all the time. Even with my wife, who talks a lot, I sometimes tune out after a while. If you are hearing the same voice all the time it loses its edge."
So no "Sheila" influence, then, in the departmental debate: "I have been fortunate to work with some great captains: John Eales, George Gregan and the like," Johnson added. "I thought Martin Johnson was a wonderful leader of men. What was common to all those people was that they did not say a lot but they did a lot. Kelly fitted the bill."
Brown has let his playing do the talking for him as an integral member of the Saracens side who are challenging for European and domestic honours this season. The 30-year-old Borderer has overcome a stammer but concedes he still sees himself as a doer rather than a talker on the rugby pitch.
"I would like to think that is my natural game," he said. "That is how I am. I have never been one for standing up and saying that we are going to do this and this and this. I am more about going out there, where actions speak louder than words."
Of course, Scotland's actions last time out ended in a 21-15 defeat against Tonga in Aberdeen in November and, subsequently, the departure of Andy Robinson as head coach. But Brown does not think there might just be some complacency among England after beating the All Blacks in their last game.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "Knowing Andy Farrell as I do, there is no way he will let them be that way."
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