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Warburton will be fit for Lions opener, insists coach Rowntree

 

By Andrew Baldock

Graham Rowntree says he does not envisage any problem with British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton being available for the opening New Zealand tour game on June 3.

Wales star Warburton has been sidelined for more than a month due to a knee injury, but he met up with 13 of his playing colleagues for a first day of Lions training yesterday.

It is also a possibility that he could feature for Cardiff Blues in their European Champions Cup qualification play-off against Stade Francais in Paris on Friday.

“Sam is on a modified (training) load,” Lions assistant coach Rowntree said. “He didn’t train with the team today. He is on a modified load, as you would expect for a guy coming back from injury, but he is going to be fine.”

Asked about the Blues game in three days’ time, Rowntree added: “That is a bigger picture decision for Sam, the Blues and Warren (Lions head coach Gatland).

“He looked pretty fit to me. I don’t think there will be any trouble with him playing, certainly the first game on tour.”

Almost two thirds of the 41-man Lions squad are currently with their clubs, regions and provinces ahead of Aviva Premiership, Guinness PRO12 and Champions Cup play-offs next weekend.

But Rowntree was delighted with the work done on day one in camp at Wales’ training base in the Vale of Glamorgan.

“We’ve got 14 guys here,” he said. “There was some fitness this morning, then we had a good hit-out this afternoon.

“The lads have got through a whole lot of things very quickly, so that’s great.”

Belfast Telegraph

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