Lions legend Neil Back has welcomed the appointment of Ian McGeechan as the Head Coach of the 2009 touring party to South Africa.
Back, three-times a Lions tourist and the oldest player ever to make the original selection for a Lions tour, believes McGeechan is the perfect man to lead the side to victory in May and June of next year.
"I think it's absolutely the right choice," says Back, who toured with the Lions in 1997, 2001 and 2005. "I'm fully in support of his appointment and I congratulate him on it.
"The tour takes place in South Africa and the fact that Ian was a big part of the success there in 1997 is invaluable, as is his playing experience with the Lions and his previous involvement with the management and coaching of Lions squads."
McGeechan's understanding of the Lions aura and his ability to communicate that to the players is another aspect of the Scotsman's make up that leads Back to believe that the Lions can record a series win over the reigning World Champions.
"Ian was able to articulate precisely and in the most positive way what the Lions meant. He talked about the traditions and what an honour it was to play for the Lions. His passion came through in everything he said. He's also got a fantastic game understanding and a great empathy with the players.
"Ian makes everyone feel that they have an opportunity. I went into the 1997 tour as a non-Saturday player but, through him, I was given a carrot and I definitely believed that, if I played well enough, I'd be given an opportunity and that's what happened.
"He kept everyone involved and motivated and he was very supportive. That was highlighted after the first Test win when the guys that were involved in that Test were all out the next day helping the other guys prepare for the mid-week game. That was indicative of the guys that were on tour but it was also influenced by Ian."
Back, who made his Lions debut against Border Bulldogs in East London before playing the second and third tests on that famous tour, was keen to express his gratitude for the faith McGeechan showed in him prior to and during the last Lions visit to South Africa.
"Although I was on standby for the 1993 tour, I hadn't been capped then so I didn't really expect to go. It was Ian who pencilled me in for the 1997 tour. I had seven caps by then and I'd played in the 1995 World Cup which had given me a bit of profile but it was his recognition of what I could bring on the hard grounds of South Africa that really influenced my selection."