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Warburton named Lions captain

19th April 2017

Sam Warburton has been named Lions captain for a second successive tour.

The Cardiff Blues ace led the Lions to an historic Test series victory over Australia in 2013 and he will now travel to New Zealand with the skipper duties

And he will now become just the second player to skipper the famous tourists twice, following in the footsteps of England’s Martin Johnson, who had the honour in 1997 and 2001.

Warburton is the only current Cardiff Blues player to make the initial squad but is joined by 11 other Welshmen, including former Arms Park favourite Leigh Halfpenny.

Warburton said: “It’s hard to put into words. It’s an amazing challenge and opportunity.

"I found out last Thursday. I was in the supermarket car park. My wife was getting bread and milk. I hung up on Warren first time around, I thought it was the boys at the Blues messing around.

"I only saw the squad five minutes ago. If someone asked me to pick a squad I would have found it difficult but it is an immensely strong squad. Everyone is a top class player and as a captain that gives me a massive amount of confidence.

“The Lions has been the pinnacle of my career, and this tour is another step up because it is New Zealand. It’s obviously an amazing honour and I’m just thrilled Warren picked me.”

It is just the latest captaincy feat achieved by the 28-year-old, who became the World Cup’s youngest ever captain in 2011.

He led Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2012 and the title in 2013, before going on the Lions tour Down Under.

Warburton relinquished the Welsh captaincy earlier this season, as Wales’ most-capped captain, but has enjoyed yet another impressive campaign.

He has made 14 appearances for Cardiff Blues and starred throughout the Six Nations for Wales. 

The flanker is currently on the side-lines with a low-grade medial ligament sprain but it is hoped he will return to action for Cardiff Blues if they reach the European Champions Cup play-off final with no concerns over the Lions.

Gatland said: "Sam is a great player, an outstanding leader and a winning Lions captain. We believe that Sam's experience and leadership qualities make him an obvious choice as captain. 

“He has earned the respect of his peers and coaches through his resilience, tenacity and hard work."

Dan Biggar - Ospreys, Wales
Elliot Daly - Wasps, England
Jonathan Davies - Scarlets, Wales, Lions #778
Owen Farrell - Saracens, England, Lions #780
Leigh Halfpenny - Toulon, Wales, Lions #775
Robbie Henshaw - Leinster Rugby, Ireland
Stuart Hogg - Glasgow Warriors, Scotland, Lions #783
Jonathan Joseph - Bath Rugby, England
Conor Murray - Munster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #790
George North - Northampton Saints, Wales, Lions #792
Jack Nowell - Exeter Chiefs, England
Jared Payne - Ulster Rugby, Ireland
Jonathan Sexton - Leinster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #791
Tommy Seymour - Glasgow Warriors, Scotland
Ben Te'o - Worcester Warriors, England
Anthony Watson - Bath Rugby, England
Rhys Webb - Ospreys, Wales
Liam Williams - Scarlets, Wales
Ben Youngs - Leicester Tigers, England, Lions #799

Rory Best - Ulster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #793
Dan Cole - Leicester Tigers, England, Lions #794
Taulupe Faletau - Bath Rugby, Wales, Lions #779
Tadhg Furlong - Leinster Rugby, Ireland
Jamie George - Saracens, England
Iain Henderson - Ulster Rugby, Ireland
Maro Itoje - Saracens, England
Alun Wyn Jones - Ospreys, Wales, Lions #761
George Kruis - Saracens, England
Courtney Lawes - Northampton Saints, England
Joe Marler - Harlequins, England
Jack McGrath - Leinster Rugby, Ireland
Ross Moriarty - Gloucester Rugby, Wales
Sean O'Brien - Leinster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #796
Peter O'Mahony - Munster Rugby, Ireland
Ken Owens - Scarlets, Wales
Kyle Sinckler - Harlequins, England
CJ Stander - Munster Rugby, Ireland
Justin Tipuric - Ospreys, Wales, Lions #786
Mako Vunipola - Saracens, England, Lions #787
Billy Vunipola - Saracens, England
Sam Warburton (Captain) - Cardiff Blues, Wales, Lions #800