Warburton hopes to slay Test doubts

Thu, 13 Jun 2013 10:12
Large sam warburton in stands Large sam warburton presser Large tom croft lions claps Large sam warburton lions h s Large jamie heaslip ireland 630 Large sam warburton lions media

Skipper Sam Warburton said he hopes to nail down his B&I Lions Test spot against the Waratahs.

Skipper Sam Warburton said he hopes to nail down his British and Irish Lions Test spot against the Waratahs, as head coach Warren Gatland admitted he hadn't yet decided on his best back row.

A knee injury sidelined the Welsh openside flank from the opening two tour wins in Hong Kong and Perth, and he failed to impress in last weekend's victory over the Queensland Reds.

Despite stiff competition for back row spots, and calls for Gatland to reward form players, Warburton got the nod for Saturday's game in a team expected to closely resemble the line-up for next week's first Test in Brisbane.

However, the 24-year-old knows he must deliver against the Waratahs with in-form Wales teammate Justin Tipuric among those snapping at his heels and Gatland still unsure of his best loose-forward combination.

"There's still a lot to prove," Warburton told reporters.

"There's still a couple of games to go [before the Test team is picked] and players will definitely try and take this opportunity on Saturday."

Gatland said tour selectors would not decide on the Test side until after Tuesday's match against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra, with the back row one area that remained uncertain.

"I can tell you we are far from [having] made up our minds on the loose forwards and there's a huge amount of options and combinations," he said.

"They're all fit at the moment and all of them have done really well, so that's going to be one headache and the next couple of games will determine that."

After teaming with compatriots Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau against the Reds, Warburton is partnered with English blindside flank Tom Croft and in-form Irish No.8 Jamie Heaslip.

"I know Dan and Toby and am very familiar with that trio, but I'm really looking forward to playing with Tom and Jamie," Warburton said.

"Tom, line-out-wise, is awesome in training and Jamie's feet in attack have been great with the ball-carrying."

The Lions pack against the Waratahs also features fellow likely Test starters in locks Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell, and prop Adam Jones.

Gatland left out Irish star Brian O'Driscoll, saying the 34-year-old veteran needed to be managed ahead of the Test series.

"We didn't really want him to play more than one game a week and at any stage if his body was a little bit sore, then we'd make sure that we keep him fresh and didn't tire him out," he said.

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 01 July 2016
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Suva
Brumbies v Reds 09h40 Canberra
EP Kings v Griquas 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Blue Bulls v Boland 17h00 Loftus Versfeld
Sat, 02 July 2016
Sunwolves v Waratahs 05h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Blues 07h35 Wellington
Rebels v Stormers 09h40 Melbourne
Free State Cheetahs v Falcons 10h05 Bloemfontein
Golden Lions v Griffons 12h05 Johannesburg
Western Province v Eagles 13h00 Newlands
Namibia v Border 13h00 Windhoek
Cheetahs v Force 13h00 Bloemfontein
Sharks v Leopards 15h00 Durban
Kings v Highlanders 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Lions v Sharks 17h10 Johannesburg
Jaguares v Bulls 21h40 Buenos Aires
B&I LIONS
MORE LOGS