Warburton not guaranteed starting spot - Gatland


Sam Warburton may be tour captain for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand but that does not mean he is guaranteed a place in the first Test, says Warren Gatland.

The Wales flanker has struggled for fitness in the opening weeks of the tour and played in only two of their five warm-up matches.

An ankle problem has hampered his time on the field but he played 67 minutes in the narrow 23-22 defeat to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Warburton continued his recovery with 17 minutes against the Maori All Blacks - as a replacement for Peter O'Mahony - but Gatland says the make-up of his back-row for next weekend's opening Test is still up for debate.

"For Sam, we were hoping he was going to be part of the 23 against the Crusaders," Gatland was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. 

"Unfortunately, he rolled his ankle a little bit so hadn't recovered in time.

"So he had time against the Highlanders and we were able to give him time last night.

"There will be some tough debates and discussions to have on the final make-up of what the back-row is going to be for Saturday."