Warburton returns to captain Lions

Lynette Rowe
June 14, 2017

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is set to return to the starting line-up on Tuesday against the Highlanders, following a two-match injury absence.

"I don't think we got shoved off a ball, in terms of counter rucking, all night".

After a slow start to the tour, the Lions came to life with a 12-3 victory over the Super Rugby-leading Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday and will be looking to build on that win as they head towards the three tests against the All Blacks.

Fly-half Dan Biggar is fit to start after concussion, as he looks to make ground on Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton. Maro Itoje may have been a blindside option but Courtney Lawes' injury and another middling game from Alun Wyn Jones may now see him get a chance beside George Kruis.

"I can take off quicker than him, but he'll keep on pushing and push past me".

"It will definitely be tight enough getting back home jet-lagged and then going on honeymoon over to Singapore", said Henderson.

Saturday's win over Crusaders saw the last of the 41-man squad start a game and the performance breathed some life into the prospect of the tourists succeeding in their seemingly impossible job.

Several half-chances were squandered on Saturday, leaving the Lions with just two tries to their name in 240 minutes in New Zealand.

England centre Joseph failed to cut loose in the laboured 13-7 tour-opening win over the Provincial Barbarians but coach Farrell tipped the Bath star to be a different proposition today, now jet lag is no factor.

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Warren Gatland leads the Lions in 2017.

"I probably only missed one or two sessions, so my preparation hasn't changed a whole lot", said Warburton.

He is a very composed player, knows the game and never gets rattled.

While the Highlanders' backs look lethal, I can not look past the strength of the Lions up front and expect they will control the game and for long periods and, as a result, the scoreboard. Rory and I were in training together before leaving for the tour, and his mental toughness just shone through again.

"We know that things were being said about us, but we were frustrated with the result on Wednesday (the 22-16 Blues defeat) as well". It is also an opportunity for Gatland and his coaches to test out player combinations and plays in a bid to find the right personnel that will challenge the world champions in their own backyard. "It takes a little bit of time to understand your referees and I think that's what happened". We've gone hard with the lads in contact, fitness, taking a lot out of the legs and with the travel, etc that would have had an impact on the first couple of games, but we're ready to get battle-hardened for a Test match.

The Crusaders fell victim to the sustained excellence of openside Sean O'Brien and No8 Toby Faletau.

The Lions put their tour back on track after stifling Crusaders, New Zealand's best Super Rugby team, who had been unbeaten in 14 games this season.

"The feeling about the game on Tuesday night, for the 23 going out there, is making sure they put on a performance for the rest of the boys", Farrell said.

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