British and Irish Lions captaincy favourite Sam Warburton emerges as injury doubt after being ruled out for the season

Frank Dalleres
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Gloucester Rugby v Cardiff Blues - European Rugby Challenge Cup
Warburton is still tipped to be fit for Lions duty, despite a knee injury (Source: Getty)

Cardiff Blues have attempted to allay fears that British and Irish Lions captaincy favourite Sam Warburton will miss this summer’s tour to New Zealand after he was ruled out for six weeks.

Warburton has been diagnosed with a knee ligament injury that is expected to prevent him from playing competitively again before the Lions travel down under next month.

But Blues head coach Danny Wilson insists the Wales flanker, who skippered the Lions on their victorious trip to Australia four years ago, should be well enough to be included in Warren Gatland’s squad next week.

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“Sam has a low grade medial strain which will put him out for approximately six weeks. He shouldn’t have any problem regarding the Lions,” said Wilson.

“You see players who get back quickly if they follow religiously the protocol and they get a bit of luck. I am sure that will be the case with Sam in terms of him following the protocol.

“Sam is very experienced and a good professional who knows his body. He knows if he works hard he will be back relatively quickly. I think it is relatively good news, considering how it could have been.”

Warburton, 28, suffered the injury playing for Cardiff in their Pro12 draw at Ulster on Friday.

Gatland is due to name his Lions squad on Wednesday, with Warburton favourite to be appointed captain ahead of Ireland’s Conor Murray and Rory Best and England’s Owen Farrell.

The Lions play their first tour match on 3 June, with five more fixtures scheduled before they meet the All Blacks in the first of three Tests on 24 June at Eden Park in Auckland.

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