To outsiders the race for the British and Irish Lions captaincy appeared desperately tight, but for head coach Ian McGeechan there was only one suitable candidate to lead a tour to South Africa - Paul O'Connell.
Sticking with the policy that served him so well in 1997, he selected O'Connell knowing his presence at the coalface would set the tone against the muscular Springboks.
"In South Africa it's important to have that focal point in the forwards - that's crucial to the dynamics of the Lions in South Africa," said the Scot.
Mirroring O'Connell's progression, Martin Johnson was asked to lead the Lions in 1997 despite not holding the post with England at the time. Johnson also played in the second row.
A 2-1 triumph in the Test series vindicated McGeechan's decision and Johnson went on to become one of the great captains in British sporting history.
Like Johnson the 29-year-old, who was at the helm for Munster's Heineken Cup triumph last season, has been picked for his abrasive, hard-nosed attitude.
"I don't really know Martin that well. In 1997 I was 17 and very impressionable,” said McConnell. “I watched him on that tour and playing for England in big games.
"Anything you can take from anyone to make you better you do. I thought he was a fabulous player.
"The way he led the Lions in 1997 was something to be admired and learnt from.
"But I presume I've been picked for who I am and not for who I should be in the future.
"I've got to go out there and captain the team as I've done with other sides in the past."
O'Connell is the 10th Irishman to lead a Lions tour but was not even born the last time a player from his nation provided a successful captain.
Willie John McBride's revered class of 1974 have earnt a fabled place in the Lions history for thumping the Springboks 3-0, drawing one Test, and O'Connell admits it is winning tours that are remembered.
"When I look back at the Lions it's the team that has managed to bring the four teams together and have been successful that sticks in the mind," he said.
"Willie John McBride in ‘74 and Martin Johnson in ‘97 are the sides that I remember. It's not daunting. It's a tough challenge but an exciting one."