Lions Tour: Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree confident Sam Warburton will be fit in time for Test matches

  • 09/06/2017

There is uncertainty over when British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton will return from an injury sustained in the opening match of their New Zealand tour.          

Welsh flanker Warburton was replaced late in the 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei last Saturday and wasn't named for either of the two subsequent games.

Assistant coach Graham Rowntree says Warburton is unable to train fully on an ankle injury which responds poorly to sideways movement.   

"Sam's working hard, he's just not able to do some of the twisting and turning and off-line running that's required in a high-intensity session," Rowntree said.          

"At this point, it's not a long-term issue."

Rowntree was unsure if Warburton will be available for Tuesday's fourth tour match, against the Highlanders in Dunedin.                

Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree (Getty Images)
Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree (Getty Images)

The Lions are likely to field close to a Test-strength side for the following match against the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua, which falls a week out from the first Test.           

Rowntree says there are several other candidates to lead the Lions in the Tests if Warburton can't play but that scenario isn't being contemplated.

Warburton's recuperation comes as All Blacks counterpart Kieran Read confirmed he won't play in next week's Test against Samoa because of his broken thumb.    

Read has been sidelined for six weeks by the injury but is hopeful of being available for the first Lions Test at Eden Park on June 24.

AAP 

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