Ellis Genge insists he can be trusted to keep his head – and has rubbished talk of him being a liability.
The feisty Leicester prop is on a shortlist to take over the England captaincy while Owen Farrell is away with the Lions.
In their first matches since a disappointing Six Nations, England play the United States at Twickenham on Sunday and Canada six days later.
Genge, despite starting only nine of his 28 Tests, is the most experienced forward in Eddie Jones’ squad.
Asked whether the 26-year-old could take a formal leadership role, Jones replied: “There’s no reason why he can’t, whether that’s in the future, or now.”
Genge says that as he captained his sides through the age groups it is a role he is familiar with – and is disappointed by what he labels the “misconception” that he is a hot head.
“It does bother me a little bit that people think I am more hot-headed than I am,” he said. “I’ve never had a red card for ill-discipline and I’ve never had a yellow for anything of that nature besides repeat offences.
“Yet you go on social media and it’s ‘he’s still hot headed, too much of a liability’.”
Genge missed out on Lions selection in spite of former captains Sam Warburton and Brian O’Driscoll backing him for a place.
Once again his critics said it came down to an issue of trust. Once again Genge shook his head.
But rather than spit his dummy the Bristol-born loosehead responded by inspiring Tigers to both a place in the European Challenge Cup final and qualification for next season’s Champions Cup.
“I feel I let myself down with my performances prior to the Lions squad announcement so I put the onus on sorting myself out to do better for the team,” he said. “I like to think I’ve done that.
“I guess if I was the captain of the (England) side, other teams might think, ‘Let’s get into Ellis’.
“But if people want to waste their time doing that and trying to put me off my game then okay, carry on. It will fall on deaf ears.”
By the end of the Premiership campaign Genge was skippering a Leicester side coached by Jones’ former right-hand man Steve Borthwick.
Asked about his captaincy style, he said: “I try to lead with actions as opposed to words.
“Good captains will always read the room well. ‘I like to think I can relate to everyone relatively well, but I probably can’t relate to some boys as well as the younger lot can.
“It’s about having self-awareness of where you are within the group, keeping that ticking over into sessions and staying in touch with everyone.”
Lions boss Warren Gatland is set to ring the changes for Saturday’s clash against the Golden Lions.
Gatland is intent on giving every player an opportunity to impress in the first three games.
“I have often spoken about the harmony in the squad and players feeling that they’ve had an opportunity,” he said. “From that point of view, we think it’s really important.”