Warburton named Lions captain as Robshaw & Wilkinson miss out
Sam Warburton is named British and Irish Lions captain, with Chris Robshaw and Jonny Wilkinson omitted from the 37-man squad
Sam Warburton has been named British and Irish Lions captain for the tour of Australia, with Chris Robshaw and Jonny Wilkinson the big-name omissions from Warren Gatland’s 37-man travelling party.
The Cardiff Blues star, who has never previously toured with the Lions, was the favourite to be named Gatland’s skipper despite a mixed Six Nations campaign for the 24-year-old with Wales.
Ireland duo Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell – veterans of two and three Lions tours respectively – are both included in the New Zealander’s squad, while Ulster hooker Rory Best was the surprise Irish exclusion.
Leinster’s Jonny Sexton and Saracen No10 Owen Farrell are the two out-halves selected by Gatland.
England captain Robshaw, who had been touted as a possible Lions skipper, has been omitted from Gatland’s squad, with Saracens prop Matt Stevens a surprise inclusion despite the 30-year-old’s Red Rose retirement.
Overall, Gatland’s 37-man squad comprised of 15 Welshman, 10 players from England, nine Irishman, while Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Richie Gray are Scotland’s representatives.
“It’s been the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep, but I kept it in,” said Warburton. “It’s unbelievable, it’s an accolade which very few people can achieve. To be able to do this is an honour.”
Gatland added: “For the last two or three years, he has been the most successful captain in the northern hemisphere.
“It’s a fantastically strong squad but if I think about naming the team tomorrow, Sam would be one of the players in there. He leads from the front.”
Lions squad for 2013 tour
Backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Rob Kearney (Ireland), Tommy Bowe (Ireland), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland), George North (Wales), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Manu Tuilagi (England), Owen Farrell (England), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).
Forwards: Dan Cole (England), Cian Healy (Ireland), Gethin Jenkins (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Matt Stevens (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Dylan Hartley (England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Tom Youngs (England), Ian Evans (Wales), Richie Gray (Scotland), Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Geoff Parling (England), Tom Croft (England), Toby Faletau (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Sam Warburton (Wales).