British and Irish Lions: Sam Warburton admits he could miss first Test

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton led the Lions in their tour opener against New Zealand Provincial Barbarians

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton admits he could miss out on the first Test against New Zealand.

The Wales open-side has recovered from an ankle injury to lead the side against the Highlanders on Tuesday.

But with fierce competition for places, Warburton says his current form has not yet secured a Test spot.

"If I play Tuesday and I still feel I'm a bit undercut, then I might not be ready for that first Test," said Warburton.

"Maybe that would be the situation, or maybe I could have a blinder on Tuesday and feel absolutely fine so we'll see how it goes really."

The Lions have three matches before the first Test against the All Blacks on 24 June in Eden Park, where coach Warren Gatland will finally decide on his best team from the 41-strong squad.

His back-row options include Warburton, his Wales colleagues Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau and Ross Moriarty, as well as Ireland breakaway trio CJ Stander, Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien, while lock Maro Itoje has also played there for England.

CJ Stander
Ireland back-row CJ Stander scored a try in the Lions' 22-16 defeat by the Blues last Wednesday

Warburton, 28, who missed six weeks at the end of the domestic season with a knee injury, added: "I'll be honest with Gats and Gats will be honest with me.

"I definitely need more games. I definitely admit that and I knew that coming into the tour.

"I've learned from experience that it takes me at least two games and then the third game I'll probably be playing some good rugby but Gats knew that.

"I've received this role as tour captain and I know there's every chance that I might not even get involved in that first Test because there's every other player.

"I see it as I'm tour captain, and if I've made the Test then that would be a bonus for me, but I've said there are three Tests to get selected for so it's not the be-all and end-all with the first one."

At his best, Warburton is a master of the breakdown, turning over opposition ball and guarding his own side's possession.

"When I play well and I am match-fit, I am aggressive in the tackle; I'll contribute a handful of good carries, and you become a lineout option," said the Cardiff Blues player.

"And more importantly, which hasn't really been a factor in the last three games, is turnovers.

"We haven't seen a whole lot of turnovers. You've got to be able to do everything, but you've got to bring a specialist element and I guess my one specialist element is the contact area.

"I guess I have to deliver in that area on Tuesday. That's my role of expertise."

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