No guarantees for Borthwick
Steve Borthwick will captain England for the 17th consecutive Test in the opening RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales on February 6 but there still remain doubts about his long-term future in the role.
Martin Johnson stopped short of confirming Borthwick as captain for the entire championship, preferring instead to highlight the depth of England's leadership options.
"If you are reliant on any one player, captaincy or playing-wise, then it is a weakness," Johnson said.
There is little doubt that Borthwick's influence over the squad is held in the highest regard by Johnson, who has selected the Saracens lock as captain for every Test since taking charge.
When Borthwick leads England out at Twickenham against Wales only Will Carling - with an unbroken run of 44 Tests - will have captained his country in more consecutive matches.
But Johnson was only ever appointed as England captain on a game-by-game basis and he is taking the same approach with Borthwick, who he views as one of at least three potential candidates.
"The captaincy is an important role and Steve sets a great example for us - but in any successful team there has been a group that take the leadership responsibility," said Johnson.
"We need a team that can survive losing any player. We have a better leadership group around Steve than we have had in my time.
"It's the strength of any side that you have three, four or five guys who could be captain.
"With guys like Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody, Nick Easter and Simon Shaw we are starting to have a core group."