x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Rugby union: British & Irish Lions should ask what Scotland's Kelly Brown can do for them

Kelly Brown has emerged from the British & Irish Lions pack as a warrior leader.

How far wide of the mark do all those pre-Six Nations forecasts about the likely composition of this summer's British and Irish Lions squad look now?

Fifteen Welshman? If so, it will not be the 15 you had in mind.

First of all, for Sam Warburton, now read Ryan Jones.

And Brian O'Driscoll for the captaincy? He has been clinging on in the big matches in this tournament, hardly the stuff of his glorious pomp.

There still is not a definitive answer to the Lions captaincy debate.

Chris Robshaw may be the front-runner for that office now, and would almost certainly take the armband if he does lead England to the Grand Slam.

But there is one other candidate whose claims to the role started the competition as left-field, yet are now verging on compelling.

Kelly Brown will become the first captain to lead Scotland to three Six Nations wins in the same season if they beat Wales tomorrow.

Brown has been the pillar of a side who are under the charge of a coach who is officially still a caretaker yet have thrived in the competition.

In the win over Ireland, with his nose mashed all over his face, the charismatic flanker did a far more believable Braveheart than Mel Gibson, and without make-up, either.

He is the sort of warrior leader a team of Lions would want to follow.

Which is not bad for a player who would have been regarded as an outsider to make the squad a month ago.

pradley@thenational.ae

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