2003 MARTIN JOHNSON
POSITION: Lock AGE ON DEBUT: 22 AGE WHEN FIRST CAPTAIN: 28 CAPS BEFORE BECOMING CAPTAIN: 39 TESTS AS CAPTAIN: 45 TOTAL CAPS: 84 KEY QUALITIES: Mentally tough. Demanding of others. Resourceful. Direct. Physically imposing. Lead by example. World Class player.
The key attribute Martin Johnson brought to his captaincy was phenomenal physical presence and iron fortitude. He wouldn’t be described as having a huge intellect but Johnson was clever enough and emotionally intelligent.
He was a follow me leader in every sense. The first guy into contact would have been Johnson. The first guy to let the opposition know they needed to back away...was Johnson. He tended to act first, worry about consequences later such as was his focus on winning.
He wouldn’t be in danger of being called loquacious but he didn’t need to be. A few well chosen words; a few steely glares and off they went. Johnson was a player everyone respected and maybe even slightly feared. He was a world class operator – genuinely gifted and was not only the 2003 tournament’s best leader, he was also the best lock. That ability to be task focused, direct and so committed was exactly what the English team of that time needed. Johnson kept things simple and everyone knew what was required.