Warburton returns to captain Lions

7:11 AM BST

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Sam Warburton will skipper the British & Irish Lions against the Highlanders on Tuesday after recovering from an ankle injury.

Warburton picked up the knock in their opener against the NZ Provincial Barbarians and missed their defeat against the Blues and win over the Crusaders. There were fears Warburton’s injury would see him miss this Tuesday’s clash in Dunedin, but he is passed fit to captain the team from openside.

Warren Gatland has made wholesale changes from the side that defeated the Crusaders with a new starting 15 facing the Highlanders.

Jared Payne, who picked up a calf injury in their opener, starts at fullback with Tommy Seymour and Jack Nowell on the wings. Jonathan Joseph partners Robbie Henshaw in the centres with Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb linking up at half-back.

Joe Marler, Rory Best and Kyle Sinckler form the front-row with Iain Henderson partnering Courtney Lawes in the locks. James Haskell, Warburton and CJ Stander start in the back-row.

“At this stage of the tour everyone has had a start and as coaches we are happy that all the players have had a chance to put their hand up and perform in the Lions jersey,” Gatland said.

“Each game is a chance for individuals to shine but more importantly it’s about a collective performance. We are building some momentum and we have improved with every game.

“We were obviously pleased with the win against the Crusaders, especially our defence and game management, but we know the Highlanders will be another massive test for us as a squad.”

British & Irish Lions team:

Jared Payne, Jack Nowell, Jonathan Joseph, Robbie Henshaw, Tommy Seymour, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Joe Marler, Rory Best, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson, James Haskell, Sam Warburton (captain), CJ Stander

Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Greig Laidlaw, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19603377/sam-warburton-returns-captain-lions-highlanders
Warburton returns to captain Lions
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