Video: Lions tour to New Zealand will be career highlight for Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton can't wait to travel to New Zealand because the public will know who the Lions are.

That's the word from the Lions captain who will lead the team on two consecutive tours after the series win in Australia four years ago.

"I can't wait to get out there to be honest," Warburton said.

"Four years ago I remember I was walking around Melbourne and people were asking me who the British Lions were, where, I know there's not going to be anywhere in New Zealand.

An injured Sam Warburton after defeating Australia in 2013 (Getty)
An injured Sam Warburton after defeating Australia in 2013 (Getty)

"Everybody's going to know who we are, what we're doing and you'll feel like there probably won't be too much space out there."

Prior to the team selection, there was doubt over Warburton's spot, not just as captain, but in the squad.

But ultimately, he was delighted that it was this tour he was selected on.

"If you're asking me in my career which Lions tour could I pick to go on out of any of them, if I could pick one I'd pick New Zealand because it's New Zealand."

Meanwhile, the loss of key Lions player Billy Vunipola is still reverberating throughout the home nations.

Injuring his shoulder in Saracens' Champions Cup win over Clermont ten days ago, coach Warren Gatland admitted it was a monumental loss for the team.

"I spoke to Billy, and he just felt that he couldn't give us 100 per cent," Gatland said.

"I did try and persuade him to come over and be assessed, but he was adamant he wasn't right. He is a big loss to us, but I fully understand the decision he made to not go on the tour."

The Lions face a gruelling schedule in New Zealand with 10 matches in 36 days.

Before they get on the plane on 29 June, five of the UK's top domestic teams will play this weekend in finals of their respective tournaments.

And the New Zealand-born Gatland expected things to get worse on the injury front.

Billy Vunipola
Billy Vunipola clutching his shoulder after injuring himself last week (Getty)

"The unfortunate thing is we're down two players from the original squad that was announced and no doubt there could be a couple more next weekend as well."

"Given the history of the Lions, we planned to lose anywhere between 6 or 10 players, that's just the attrition of last tours, look it's disappointing but you just have to move on with the decisions made and look forward."

The Lions kick off their tour against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians at Whangarei's Toll Stadium on June 3.