Friday, 20 July, 2018

British & Irish Lions: Sam Warburton named captain

Melinda Barton | 20 April, 2017, 06:06

The Wales flanker, who skippered the side in 2013, was confirmed as Warren Gatland's choice to lead the team on the tour to New Zealand when the squad was named on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Cardiff flanker becomes the second player to be named skipper for two Lions tours, following England World Cup victor Martin Johnson.

Dylan Hartley, Joe Launchbury, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, George Ford, Chris Robshaw and James Haskell are all mainstays for their countries but will head off on summer tours, keeping half an eye on events in New Zealand.

Warburton stood down from the Wales captaincy this season and is now out with a knee injury.

Reacting to today's squad announcement, Wray said: "In 1971, the only time the Lions have ever won in New Zealand, London Welsh had 7 players in the squad".

Commenting on those joining him for the tour, Warburton said: 'I only saw the squad five minutes ago.

Warburton, who relinquished the Wales captaincy in January, revealed he had found out the news last Thursday, while waiting around in a supermarket auto park to avoid the prying questions of an avid rugby fan inside. 'I was in the supermarket vehicle park.

Former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick has warned his compatriots to not take the British and Irish Lions lightly when they meet later this year. He's lifting some heavy weights in training but again you'd like to see him having a run under his belt for the Ospreys before the tour as well to make sure that we could be confident with some tough contact sessions, that we know that shoulder issue is going to be right.

Wales' Ross Moriarty and Ireland's Jared Payne come as surprise inclusions.

Hartley was not the only notable England omission, with in-form lock Joe Launchbury also missing out.

This is the moment Jack Nowell discovered he had been called up to the British & Irish Lions squad for the first time.

1225: England players form the bulk of the squad with 16 selected while there's 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and only Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour from Scotland.

Despite winning three games in the Six Nations for their performance in more than a decade and moving up to fifth in the world rankings, the Scots had only two representatives in the Lions squad - fullback Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour.

"This is probably the hardest selection we have had, we think it is a strong squad so as a coaching team we are really excited about the talent and quality of team we are taking to New Zealand".

The first match is June 3rd, the first test is June 24th and the final test and game of the tour is on July 8th.

While Henshaw will naturally face very stiff competition for a place on the Test starting team, his versatility - he can be play in the either of the centre positions or at full-back - should count in his favour.