Sam Warburton admits he thought captaincy call was a teammate prank

  • Sam Warburton admits he thought captaincy call was a teammate prank

Sam Warburton admits he thought captaincy call was a teammate prank

Warren Gatland has announced his British & Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand this summer, with Wales back row Sam Warburton confirmed as captain.

Warburton - the skipper for the 2013 tour of Australia - will be the second player to captain the Lions twice, after England great Martin Johnson (1997, 2001).

Other notable names revealed by coach Warren Gatland were Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler, who has yet to start a test for England, England centres Jonathan Joseph and Ben Te'o and Wales number eight Ross Moriarty.

Warburton, who has won 74 Wales caps and led his country in two World Cup campaigns, is now injured.

The Ireland captain will be eager to travel to New Zealand after a disappointing tour to Australia in 2013 where he wasn't selected in any of the three Test squads.

'I found out last Thursday, ' he said.

The Welshman had believed that he had blown his chances when he hung-up on the Lions manager in a supermarket auto park.

"His greatest quality is it is not all about Sam Warburton, it's about the team and putting the team first", Gatland said.

"We just needed to make sure we have the depth and quality in the squad to make sure we can handle the quality of the sides we're coming up against", was Gatland's message at the unveiling of the squad.

Wales finished fifth in this year's Six Nations, below England, Ireland and Scotland.

In total, there are 16 players from 2017 Six Nations champions England in the squad, but English captain Dylan Hartley is among those who miss out.

During the Six Nations, Launchbury deputised for injured lock George Kruis, who was selected by Gatland after recently returning for Saracens.

"Wherever we go in New Zealand, we're going to be inundated by fans who are incredibly excited about us being there and also very knowledgeable about the Lions, the players, the performances and the expectation as well".

Wales have 12 and Ireland 11 with Scotland's two representatives, fullback Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour. But his decision, and that of Lions management, to include just two Scots threatens to create factions and erode harmony before the tourists even board the plane to New Zealand in June.

"A lot of teams arrive in New Zealand and, I saw this in 2011 (at the World Cup), they weren't prepared for the stuff off the field".

"It's an incredibly tough tour".

The British and Irish Lions head to New Zealand this summer for a ten-match series, including three Tests against the mighty All Blacks. talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 will bring you EXCLUSIVE coverage of every match, beginning on June 3 with the tour match against the New Zealand Barbarians.

"Realistically I've got a little bit of catching up to do in terms of looking for a Test spot", said Biggar.

To have a few friendly faces on the trip is pretty good.