ibusinesslines.com March 22, 2018

Warburton to captain British Lions tour of New Zealand

20 April 2017, 01:27 | Justin Tyler

Speaking at the squad announcement on Wednesday, Head Coach Warren Gatland said he finalised his selections as late as Tuesday afternoon but remains confident the players chosen are more than capable of winning in New Zealand.

But Gatland, having led the Lions to a 2-1 series victory over Australia four years ago, believes the squad will travel with real belief.

"I didn't feel comfortable being Wales captain for the Six Nations".

'We had a dinner last night with the ex-captains of the Lions and it was only when I sat down to see the company I was in that I realised.

Jones previously stated he may look to rest some of his senior players if they miss out on Lions selection, but Steve Borthwick has indicated that Hartley will be present for the two Tests.

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

If there was heartache for Hartley, there was set to be uproar in Scotland.

Wales have 12 and Ireland 11 with Scotland's two representatives, fullback Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour. Scotland haven't had more than three players in a Lions squad in each of the last five tours. These guys know the players they've worked with.

"The will tell us they will but they will try and beat us up first".

The theme of continuity extended to Gatland's choice of captain.

With Sam Warburton confirmed as captain, there are a number of leaders in the squad for him to call upon.

Wales back row Sam Warburton has, as expected, been named captain and will hope for a repeat of when he was previously skipper on the Lions' victorious tour to Australia in 2013.

That said, he would have said no had he felt he was not playing well enough.

The Lions begin their tour on June 3 against a provincial Barbarians side, going on to play the Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Maori All Blacks and Chiefs before the first Test in Auckland on June 24.

The tour includes three Tests against the world number one All Blacks. The key for us was getting the right mix of players.

One month after England were crowned RBS 6 Nations champions for a second successive year, they were rewarded by supplying the largest portion of the Lions squad numbering 16 players. In 2013, nine players were called up outside of the original 37-man squad.

His squad will be aiming to become just the second Lions party to win a Test series in New Zealand, with the combined side's lone series success against the All Blacks coming in 1971.

"I'm over the moon, chuffed to bits to be going to New Zealand", Hogg added.

Hansen says Gatland is bringing the best British and Irish Lions team to tour New Zealand for a long time, and expectations will be high. "Probably the hardest one we've had. But looking back, we think it's the strongest squad".

Rory Best (Ireland)‚ Dan Cole (England)‚ Taulupe Faletau (Wales)‚ Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)‚ Jamie George (England)‚ Iain Henderson (Ireland)‚ Maro Itoje (England)‚ Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)‚ George Kruis (England)‚ Courtney Lawes (England)‚ Joe Marler (England)‚ Jack McGrath (Ireland)‚ Ross Moriarty (Wales)‚ Sean O'Brien (Ireland)‚ Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)‚ Ken Owens (Wales)‚ Kyle Sinckler (England)‚ CJ Stander (Ireland)‚ Justin Tipuric (Wales)‚ Mako Vunipola (England)‚ Billy Vunipola (England)‚ Sam Warburton (Wales‚ capt).

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