Lions 2013: 'Wise' Warburton impresses Paul O'Connell

Lions captain Sam Warburton speaks to the media at a training session

Paul O'Connell says new British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has the maturity to succeed in Australia.

Warburton, 24, will be the youngest player to lead the Lions for 58 years.

But O'Connell, captain in 2009 in South Africa and set for his third Lions tour, said: "Having spent a week with him it seems to me he'll be fine.

"I was 25 on the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand and was probably a lot more naive than Sam. He's quite a wise guy, wise beyond his years."

O'Connell, the 33-year-old Munster lock, shared a room with Warburton at the first training camp in Wales as the Lions began preparations for the three-Test tour to Australia, which starts in June.

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Paul O'Connell at Carton House in County Kildare

"I haven't spoken to Sam directly about the captaincy. Last week we chatted non-stop about all manner of things," added O'Connell.

"It's important that he knows myself, [2005 captain] Brian O'Driscoll and all of the senior players are there for him.

"He's a very relaxed guy and confident in his own ability.

"He's been very successful with Wales and it's important we back him as much as we can, but I don't think he'll need a whole lot of it."

O'Connell's Lions lost the Test series 2-1 to the Springboks back in 2009 and he was a major injury doubt for this summer's tour to Australia.

The Munster captain returned to action in late March after being sidelined for most of this season after having back surgery.

He missed Ireland's 2012 autumn Tests and the 2013 Six Nations campaign, but a string of impressive performances for Munster in the Heineken Cup led to his Lions call-up.

He, along with flanker Warburton and fellow Ireland international O'Driscoll, were the three frontrunners to be the 2013 Lions captain.

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