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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 18:27 GMT
Who will succeed captain Johnson?
By Bryn Palmer

Jonny Wilkinson looks on as Martin Johnson speaks to the press
Will "Johnno" hand over to Jonny?
England captain Martin Johnson has finally decided to end his international career, leaving coach Clive Woodward with a tough choice.

With the Six Nations fast approaching, Woodward is set to name the new captain to spearhead England's challenge on Wednesday.

There is no shortage of candidates for the role, and BBC Sport assesses their prospects of replacing a legend.


Phil Vickery

Age: 27
Caps: 38
Tests as capt: 2

Often praised by Woodward for his leadership qualities, Vickery would ensure a smooth transition in style.

A no-frills performer and first-choice when fit, the tighthead prop would supply the same honest endeavour that Johnson brings to the job.

Impressed when leading an under-strength side to victory in Argentina in the summer of 2002, Gloucester's "Raging Bull" should be around until the next World Cup.


Jonny Wilkinson

Age: 24
Caps: 52
Tests as capt: 1

Already vice-captain, England's superstar makes no secret of his desire to lead his country one day.

The question Woodward will ponder is whether adding an extra layer of responsibility is asking too much of the team's chief playmaker and points-scorer.

Wilkinson was awarded the captaincy for the first time against Italy last season, and proved at the World Cup that he thrives when the pressure is at its greatest.


Neil Back

Age: 34
Caps: 66
Tests as capt: 4

May be a short-term alternative having confirmed he is keen to extend his own Test career.

Already the team's chief defence co-ordinator, Back would offer a seamless transition for the Six Nations.

Has been handed the job in important games before when Johnson has been absent, but age may count against him.


Lawrence Dallaglio

Age: 31
Caps: 65
Tests as capt: 14

Appeared set for a long reign in the job until a tabloid newspaper "sting" forced him to resign in May 1999, passing the mantle to Johnson.

A natural leader at the base of the scrum, Dallaglio has reasserted his former authority in recent months after being dropped at the start of the year.

But Woodward declined to go back to him during the World Cup, and may decide to keep the number eight as one of his chief lieutenants.


Matt Dawson

Age: 31
Caps: 57
Tests as capt: 9

Performances at the business end of the World Cup strengthened his hand as the team's premier scrum-half.

His leadership qualities were forged in adversity on the 1998 "Tour from Hell", but he was subsequently at the helm for the Grand Slam mishaps of Murrayfield 2000 and Dublin 2001.

Unlikely to be around for France 2007, and another likely to remain in the senior group rather than leading the way.


Richard Hill

Age: 30
Caps: 63
Tests as capt: 0

Could emerge as a dark horse choice after being given the job for the pre-Christmas fixture against the New Zealand Barbarians.

The only player never to be dropped by Woodward, Hill is guaranteed a place and his importance was shown during his absence during the World Cup.

Exuding quiet authority, the Saracens flanker is universally respected and admired by team-mates and opponents alike.




SEE ALSO
Back joins captaincy race
13 Jan 04  |  Internationals
Johnson: I won't be rushed
13 Jan 04  |  Internationals
Woodward hints at retirements
11 Jan 04  |  Internationals


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