Sam Warburton: Lions captain fit 'to crack on'


In Australia in 2013 captain Sam Warburton was asked "who the Lions were"

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has declared himself fully fit for the tour to New Zealand after recovering from a knee injury.

The Wales flanker has not played since sustaining the injury against Ulster in the Pro12 on 7 April.

“Today [Monday] I trained fully,” Warburton said, adding: “That’s all the boxes ticked, and now I can crack on.”

Meanwhile, head coach Warren Gatland said he expects to lose between six and 10 players to injury on the tour.

The tourists have already lost England number eight Billy Vunipola because of a shoulder injury, while fellow countryman and scrum-half Ben Youngs withdrew from the Lions squad at the start of May after his brother’s wife learned that she is terminally ill.

Wales hooker Ken Owens will miss Scarlets’ Pro12 final against Munster on Saturday because of an ankle injury.

Ireland prop Jack McGrath is also a concern because of an arm injury, as are Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb (groin) and Ireland back-row Sean O’Brien (calf).

Gatland: ‘Injured guys making good progress’

Lions’ England prop Joe Marler listens as Warren Gatland makes a point during training

Despite the casualty list, Gatland seemed confident the injured players will be fit for the tour.

“I think we are pretty good,” Gatland said. “The guys are making good progress.”

However, with Lions players involved in end-of-season knock-out games and finals over the coming weekend, Gatland has planned for more injury blows before and during the tour.

“There could be a couple more next weekend as well and given the history of the Lions, we’ve planned to lose anywhere between six and 10 players,” he said.

“I mean, that’s just the attrition of past tours.”

England back-rower James Haskell has replaced Vunipola and Warburton said: “Billy was one of the guys I was really looking forward to playing with who I hadn’t played alongside before.

“He has been a massive player for Saracens. It is a big loss for us, but James [Haskell] coming in – I think only Rory Best and Alun Wyn Jones have got more caps [for their countries] than him in the squad – means we are very lucky.”

Full Lions tour schedule

June 3 – Provincial Union Team, Whangarei
June 7 – Blues, Auckland
June 10 – Crusaders, Christchurch
June 13 – Highlanders, Dunedin
June 17 – Maori All Blacks, Rotorua
June 20 – Chiefs, Hamilton
June 24 – All Blacks, Auckland
June 27 – Hurricanes, Wellington
July 1 – All Blacks, Wellington
July 8 – All Blacks, Auckland

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