Martin Johnson has spoken.

The 47-year-old, arguably King Country's most famous rugby export since the Meads brothers, has decreed what it will take for the British and Irish Lions to defeat the All Blacks in a series for the first time since 1971.

Johnson should know. Few players with nine tests' experience against New Zealand have won as many as they have lost.

His record is four wins, four losses and a draw. One of those victories was on his Lions debut, a 20-7 result on June 26, 1993 at Wellington.


He had previously spent two seasons playing for King Country and even represented the New Zealand Colts, valuable groundwork before returning to excel for Leicester and make his England debut.

Johnson's last appearance against New Zealand was also in the capital in 2003 when his England side - reduced to 13-men at one point - eked out a 15-13 win. They triumphed at the World Cup later that year.

In the interim, Johnson had captained the Lions to South Africa (1997) and Australia (2001). Until Sam Warburton was selected to lead this expedition, Johnson was the only player to skipper the Lions on consecutive tours.

"Obviously Warren Gatland knows him [Warburton] well [as the coach of Wales]," Johnson told Britain's Daily Telegraph.

"He's comfortable with him as a captain and rates him as a player. It probably wasn't a difficult decision. His form's been good."

Johnson said a key to unity on a Lions tour was removing talk about individual home nations.

"You might feed in something that you use [for your country] but instead you say 'how about we try this?' You all know what each other does because you see it on the field, and on tape.

"There are few secrets out there. It's about them coming together and finding a way to be successful.


"You've got to approach it with an open mind. If you're stuck with one way of playing, you won't be useful to the team. Quality players can play the game a number of different ways."

Johnson said adaptability was vital.

"You ultimately do what you think is going to be effective. What you think might be the best way [to apply a strategy] at the start, might not be after half an hour of the first test.

"Yes, there will be a style you want to play, but you haven't got the time to be too detailed or complicated. You need something robust that everyone can get into."