Health Care

Sam Warburton: 'I could miss first British & Irish Lions Test'

Sam Warburton: 'I could miss first British & Irish Lions Test'”

It may not be achieving political peace on the messy scene that is the United Kingdom right now, but should the Lions down the All Blacks next month, it will certainly feel just as important to this squad.

The 26-year-old battled through the fog of jet-lag as the Lions won their tour opener 13-7 over the Provincial Barbarians - but will be at full throttle for Tuesday's Highlanders clash in Dunedin.

"And that's been challenging".

"We knew the challenge ahead of us".

"I don't think it's a pressure situation, it's a group that needs to keep on building and the message to the boys this morning about Tuesday is we're building our plan, the things that we do behind the scenes as well as what we do on the pitch". I thought the most pleasing thing was keeping them down to three points, our discipline was better, but the main thing for us was that we got stronger throughout the game. I agree with what Warren Gatland has done - you have to give every player a start - so they are familiarising themselves with playing together, and the hardest bit is the timing of runs and support lines in attack when it's fractions of a second that make the difference.

"And sometimes that brings out the best in me as a competitor in sport".

Robertson's Super Rugby-leaders had no answer to the Lions' physicality and pin-point kicking game, going down 12-3 in their first loss of 2017.

Gatland believes the Lions can now push their tour onto new levels after securing a hugely-important and morale-boosting victory.

Vunipola insisted the Lions squad hardly noticed the criticism, however, claiming they must block out the bluster to focus on preparing for the three-Test series against back-to-back world champions New Zealand.

The Lions have always maintained they view Farrell as a pure fly-half, despite England recently deploying him at inside centre.

Stuart Hogg remains the Lions' main injury concern pending an examination by a specialist into the facial injury he suffered as a result of a collision with Conor Murray 20 minutes into last Saturday's meeting with the Crusaders.

But Warburton has been passed fit to face the Highlanders in Dunedin. "Dan Biggar has been smashing me all morning, so he's fine and ready to go tomorrow night", added Farrell with a smile.

Farrell said afterwards: "I thought we were aggressive". "I saw some positive rugby, players moving the ball to try and stress them".

He doesn't want his players going into their shells but instead play the way they did on the way to clinching a franchise-record nine straight wins before losing to the Crusaders earlier this month. "I'm desperate to get another win and kick on again so the confidence can grow".

Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, George Kruis, Peter O'Mahony, Toby Faletau, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, George North.

"And he was looking risky, on outside breaks and things".

"We've got machines where we plug them in and there's a programme that you set and it's filled with ice, and you put it in an insulated bag so the ice doesn't melt overnight".

"We want that competition, don't we?"

"It was a joy to watch that game and you could tell we had taken another step in the right direction".

The sight of home fans leaving in their droves before full-time will have left every Lions fan sporting a smile: the rugby-mad home crowd were as unhappy in defeat as the much-vaunted Crusaders themselves.

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