Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Warburton to captain Lions; no place for Hartley, Launchbury

Warburton to captain Lions; no place for Hartley, Launchbury

Warburton opted to give up the Wales captaincy ahead of this year's Six Nations to concentrate on improving his form but he said there was no hesitation in accepting the role for the Lions.

The key dates in the 2017 Lions tour will be the three Tests against the All Blacks, the first of which is on June 24 at Eden Park, Auckland.

Borthwick, now an assistant to Lions coach Warren Gatland, suffered a similar fate when, as the then England skipper, he too was omitted from the combined side's squad for their 2009 tour of South Africa.

The inspirational back-row stepped down as skipper of his country in January but will have the honour of becoming only the second man to captain the Lions on two tours - emulating Martin Johnson's feat.

In a radio interview Thursday, Hansen said Gatland seemed to be hoping the inclusion of players who took part in Ireland's historic first test win over the All Blacks previous year might rub off on the Lions.

Three surprises were Wales No.8 Ross Moriarty, Ireland centre Jared Payne and ex-NRL star Ben Te'o, while England prop Kyle Sinckler got the call even though all of his eight test appearances have come off the bench. I think he's disappointed himself.

"If I felt I'd only scraped into the squad and they asked me to captain, I would have said I was not in the right frame of mind to do it", he said. Warburton will be one of 12 Welsh internationals making the trip, and is one of seven Welsh players returning from the 2013 tour, while it will be a third successive tour for Leigh Halfpenny and Alun Wyn Jones.

Despite winning three games in the Six Nations for their performance in more than a decade and moving up to fifth in the world rankings, the Scots had only two representatives in the Lions squad - fullback Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour. Four years later 2013 [the 2-1 series win against Australia] hasn't really sunk in.

However, there was disappointment for many, including Dylan Hartley - who has captained England to each of the past two Six Nations titles - and worldwide teammates George Ford and Joe Launchbury.

Jamie George has been understudy to Hartley for the Six Nations champions, yet Gatland preferred the Saracens man in a squad that includes 16 England players.

Fellow countrymen George Ford, Mike Brown and Jonathan Joseph, who made up one of the deadliest backlines of the last five years and looked to be shoe-ins for the side, now look to be on the outer and are rumoured to be missing the plane.

"Garry, like everyone else, we had a pool of players and the depth was huge". His last game was against Wales, on March 10 I think. And we are playing the best team, back-to-back world champions in their own backyard.

11 Irish players have been included among them are Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Rory Best, Jack McGrath, Tadgh Furlong, CJ Stander, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien are all included.

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