Sam Warburton admits to hanging up on Warren Gatland over British and Irish Lions captaincy

Ross McLean
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British and Irish Lions Tour Squad and Captain Announcement
Sam Warburton also captained the Lions during the 2013 tour of Australia (Source: Getty)

Reappointed British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton admitted he hung up on head coach Warren Gatland, believing the phone call regarding the captaincy was a prank by his Cardiff Blues team-mates.

Despite relinquishing the Wales armband prior to the Six Nations, Warburton will become only the second player after England’s Martin Johnson to lead the Lions twice.

“I was with the Blues and they’d been asking me for weeks whether I was captain,” said Warburton.

“I was in the gym and my phone was unlocked and they kept running up pretending that Gats [Gatland] was calling. When I was driving home I was thinking ‘surely the boys have gone on my contacts and changed their name to Gats’.

“It then rang and said Gats. I answered and when I didn’t hear anything I just hung up because I thought it was them messing about. It rang again and I heard Gats’ Kiwi accent, I thought ‘oh sh*t, this is it’.”

Warburton felt the captaincy would go to one of the current international skippers in the squad, but believes he is better prepared for the job now then four years ago when he led the Lions to victory over Australia.

“I’m a lot more relaxed this time around because I half-know what to expect,” added Warburton. “I genuinely didn’t think I was going to be a frontrunner, but I’m thrilled with the honour of doing it twice.”

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