There was always an element of risk involved when Warren Gatland announced that Sam Warburton was to be the captain of this year’s Lions Tour to New Zealand.
Not because the player isn’t good enough or doesn’t have the required leadership skills but because he is currently out-of-action with a troubling knee injury which he picked up for Cardiff Blues in a PRO12 fixture against Ulster in Belfast.
Warburton suffered damage to his medial ligament but the prognosis at the time was that he would be recovering for six weeks.
The 28-year-old suffered the injury on April 7 which would put his return to action in about two weeks time.
The Blues currently lie in seventh position which means that they will enter a playoff scenario in order to achieve Champions Cup qualification – the semi-final of which takes place on the weekend of the 19/20/21 May.
If the Blues win that semi-final then they will play again in the final the following weekend. The Blues’ head coach Danny Wilson believes that Warburton’s only appearance in a Cardiff shirt would be if they reached the final.
“If he were to play, it would be a final, if we made a final. Sam will continue with his rehab and as I say all the time, it is a bit of a cop-out, it is about ticking the relevant boxes as we go,” Wilson told BBC Sport.
Wilson also revealed that the Lions captain still has a long way to go in his recovery but that it remains a possibility that he will play some rugby before jetting off to New Zealand.
“It is a possibility but there is quite a long way to go.”
The backrower has a long history of injuries which will be a concern to the Lions management but you would imagine that they must be confident that he will regain his fitness fully otherwise he probably wouldn’t have been named in the squad.
Sam Warburton is on the treatment table once again.
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) April 11, 2017