Lions tour: Captain Sam Warburton wary of weakened Highlanders side

Sam Warburton training at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo credit: Getty
Sam Warburton training at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo credit: Getty

Sam Warburton will deliver a quick lesson in recent history to any of his British and Irish Lions teammates who think an under-manned Highlanders are ripe for the picking.

Coming off a morale-boosting win over the Crusaders, the Lions are firm favourites in Dunedin on Tuesday against a home team missing nine first-choice players.

Injuries and representative honours have hit hard, with the forward pack particularly affected, while a backline missing All Blacks Ben and Aaron Smith won't pack the same punch.

Warburton has seen it all before, harking back to a humiliating result on last year's tour with Wales, when they were beaten 40-7 midweek by a Chiefs team also missing their All Blacks.

"That was still an extremely tough game," he said.

"We expect as tough an encounter here as we'll face on this tour."

Highlanders interim coach Scott McLeod says Warburton may be right to be wary.

His promoted players are on edge to perform on an occasion they possibly never saw coming.

And most of them are well-versed with the team's methods.

"We had challenging times early in this campaign. We had a number of injuries, so we had to rely on our full squad," McLeod said.

"A lot of those guys will get another opportunity and we're really confident about that."

Of the starting XV, only Teihorangi Walden has played less than six games this season.

The Lions overcame a dreadful record in Christchurch on Saturday and will hope to do the same in Dunedin, where they have won two of eight Tests, all at Carisbrook.

It will be their first appearance at the covered stadium, where teams from the Lions catchment have a decent history.

England, Ireland and Scotland notched five wins from five combined matches there during the 2011 World Cup.

England pushed the All Blacks but lost 28-27 three years ago while Wales succumbed heavily to the world champions last year, beaten 46-6.

NZN

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email