British & Irish Lions 2013: O’Connell named captain for Barbarians tie
British & Irish Lions 2013: Head coach Warren Gatland says Paul O'Connell will captain his side against the Barbarians
Paul O’Connell will captain the British and Irish Lions against the Barbarians at Hong Kong Stadium, Warren Gatland has confirmed.
The Munster skipper takes over from Sam Warburton, who is suffering from a knee injury and won’t be risked for the tour opener on Saturday.
“The medics have asked him to stay off it for five days,” said Lions head coach Gatland.
“We felt it was not worth the risk. The last thing we wanted was for him to get through the first three or four weeks and then be struggling when the Tests come around. It is just precautionary.”
O’Connell was one of the contenders to originally captain the Lions before Gatland plumped for Warburton, who skippered Wales to the Six Nations championship in 2012.
And the New Zealander reckons O’Connell, 33, is a more-than-adequate replacement for the Cardiff Blues openside flanker.
“Paul has been great over the last few weeks, and it was probably a blessing that Munster got knocked out [in the semi-finals] of the Heineken Cup.
“He has done a great job supporting Sam and is the best person for the job in terms of his leadership and the respect he has within the squad.”