Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Warburton to lead Lions

Sam Warburton will lead the Lions on their tour Down Under

Wales star Sam Warburton has been named British and Irish Lions captain for this summer's tour of Hong Kong and Australia.

There are no places among the 37-man squad announced by Lions manager Andy Irvine in London for England skipper Chris Robshaw or 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson.

But head coach Warren Gatland handed surprise call-ups to Scotland wing Sean Maitland, England prop Mako Vunipola and 2005 Lions tourist Matt Stevens.

Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton, at 24 the youngest Welsh Lions captain in history, will lead a squad comprising 14 of his compatriots. He led Wales to the 2011 World Cup semi-finals and a Six Nations Grand Slam five months later.

After being injured for the opening part of this season's Six Nations, he returned to deliver a man-of-the-match display against Scotland and then starred when Wales inflicted a record 30-3 defeat on England to win the title.

While Wales are celebrating their largest Lions contingent since 16 players travelled to New Zealand 36 years ago, England provide 10 members of Gatland's squad, one more than in South Africa four years ago.

There are nine Irishmen in the travelling squad but there was no place for Ulster hooker Rory Best, with England's Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs selected along with Wales' Richard Hibbard. Scotland provide three players - the New Zealand-born wing Maitland, lock Richie Gray and full-back Stuart Hogg.

The Lions open the 10-match tour against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 before heading to Australia, with the first of three Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 22.

Lions squad - Backs: L Halfpenny (Wales), S Hogg (Scotland), R Kearney (Ireland), G North (Wales), A Cuthbert (Wales), T Bowe (Ireland), S Maitland (Scotland), B O'Driscoll (Ireland), M Tuilagi (England), J Roberts (Wales), J Davies (Wales), J Sexton (Ireland), O Farrell (England), C Murray (Ireland), M Phillips (Wales), B Youngs (England).

Forwards: G Jenkins (Wales), C Healy (Ireland), M Vunipola (England), A Jones (Wales), D Cole (England), M Stevens (England), D Hartley (England), R Hibbard (Wales), T Youngs (England), I Evans (Wales), R Gray (Scotland), AW Jones (Wales), P O'Connell (Ireland), G Parling (England), T Croft (England), T Faletau (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland), D Lydiate (Wales), S O'Brien (Ireland), J Tipuric (Wales), S Warburton (Wales, capt).

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