Stuart Barnes Claims The Lions Stand No Chance In NZ If Warburton Is Captain

Sam Warburton pictured during the 2013 Lions tour.

The 37-man group that will head to New Zealand in June for the British and Irish Lions tour will be announced next Wednesday.

Who will lead the side is still unknown with most still expecting Sam Warburton to captain the Tourists despite picking up a significant injury last week. Rory Best, Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell are being talked about as potential alternatives to the Welshman.

The flanker skippered the Tourists in 2013 as they edged Australia 2-1 in a thrilling series.

Fans and pundits across the rugby world have been debating the pros and cons of Warburton leading Gatland’s team and today, in his column for The Times, Sky Sports analyst Stuart Barnes has weighed in.

Barnes argues that if the 28-year-old is to receive the honour of leading the Lions again, they stand no chance of upsetting the odds down under. He writes:

“Warburton is a fine player. A good man. These are not the issues. It is the nature of his game.

“He made a few important turnovers but it was his tackling that stood out. Warburton played like someone out of the Alamo. He will defend until the last man drops in New Zealand too. But more will be needed against the best team in the world. Just as more was needed against an awful Australia team. And Warburton doesn’t possess that extra ingredient.”

He points to the victory over Australia in the final game of the 2013 tour, minus Warburton and with Sean O’Brien filling in at 7 as an example of how unimportant the Wales forward actually was.

Barnes, one of the most divisive men in rugby, concludes:

“I wish Warburton well. I hope he recovers, I hope he makes the tour. He is tough, versatile, a good man. He would make a magnificent midweek leader. But not the Test team. I hope the rumour mill is wrong.”

Regardless of the injury, the Cardiff-native is still the favourite with the bookies to take the armband.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.