Sam Warburton backed to show leadership quality should Warren Gatland hand him British and Irish Lions captaincy

Ross McLean
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Australia v British & Irish Lions: Game 1
Sam Warburton is a leading candidate to be named British and Irish Lions skipper for this summer's tour (Source: Getty)

Wales flanker Sam Warburton has been backed to shine as British and Irish Lions skipper should he be selected to lead Warren Gatland’s touring party to New Zealand at Wednesday’s squad announcement.

If Warburton is handed the armband for this summer’s series he will become only the second player, behind England World Cup winner Martin Johnson in 1997 and 2001, to do the job twice.

The 28-year-old, who is currently sidelined with a knee ligament strain, stood down as Wales captain prior to this season’s Six Nations, although Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson has no worries over his enduring leadership qualities.

Read more: Warren Gatland issues warning to Lions captaincy contenders

“What Sam brings as a leader is he leads by example,” said Wilson. “That is probably his biggest trait. His work ethic, his professionalism, the way he conducts himself on and off the field is an example that people should follow.

“When you think of the Lions and the amount of top quality players and leaders that they will have, there will be more than one guy leading the ship. There will be leaders right across all areas, on and off the field.”

A host of England’s Six Nations-winning side, meanwhile, are tipped to miss the cut and be omitted from the Lions’ expected 38-man squad, which departs for New Zealand on 29 May.

Fly-half George Ford, centre Jonathan Joseph and Mike Brown are all expected to be shunned, as are forwards trio Joe Launchbury, flanker James Haskell and former England captain Chris Robshaw.

Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler and Worcester centre Ben Te’o, who have one Test appearance between them, are believed to be set for inclusion in the touring party.

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