By Marcus Leach
When the Lions take the field against Australia tomorrow (Saturday) for the first Test, they will do so with their youngest ever captain at the helm. Given the intense pressure and magnitude of the occasion many questioned the wisdom of appointing Sam Warburton as captain, yet he is not your average 24-year-old.
Every so often a player comes along who stands out from the rest, not just in terms of ability, but also in terms of maturity and mindset. The likes of New Zealand's Richie McCaw and England's Jonny Wilkinson spring to mind as prime examples. You can add Warburton to that select group.
All one need do is spend some time with Warburton off the field to realise he has the perfect temperament to lead a team full of natural leaders. The likes of Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll have both captained the Lions before, and yet this time around they were overlooked for Warburton, but there is no bad feeling, just mutual respect.
"Having spent some time with Sam at the beginning of the season it is clear that he is the sort of character who will thrive under the pressure on his shoulders," said Steve Moore, the former Welsh international who now runs a business assisting professional athletes into business.
"The pressure will improve Sam's game, and as always he will lead from the front. But at the same time he knows he has a huge amount of leadership experience around him. Nobody will be looking at Sam questioning him or his leadership."
Moore, who played for Wales with his brother Andy, has now gone into business with him. Given the nature of professional sport careers are getting shorter, and as such the need for a career away from sport is paramount.
The brothers spotted a gap in the market and founded ACT, a business that matches professional athletes with relevant roles in business. They are not looking to give either athletes or businesses short-term solutions, rather looking to build long-term partnerships.
So, instead of simply putting big name sportsmen into businesses where they are used as 'a name', ACT goes to great lengths to ensure that each candidate is matched with a business that suits their skill set and education. And, as Moore points out, every athlete has their own style, both on and off the field.
"Every candidate is different and brings something unique to the table, as with the Lions team," Moore said. "Such is Sam's style that he will allow others to assume elements of leadership themselves. When you look at the team there is a wealth of experience both in terms of caps but most importantly leadership. Everyone of the players will have bought in to the Lions ethos.
"At the end of the day they are there with a united goal, to win a Test series in Australia and as such everyone will be right behind Sam. He has fantastic leadership qualities and when the chips are down he will be there leading by example."
To find out more about ACT click here.
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