Warburton would jump to accept captaincy

Sam Warburton insists he would have no doubts over accepting an invitation to lead the British & Irish Lions in Australia. [more]

Warburton would jump to accept captaincy

Sam Warburton insists he would have no doubts over accepting an invitation to lead the British & Irish Lions in Australia.

A leading bookmaker suspended betting on Warburton being named tour captain on Friday, following a flood of money placed on the Wales flanker.

Warburton insists he has no knowledge of any decision Warren Gatland may have made and did not understand the betting terminology.

But he would jump at the chance to be crown Lion King.

"I’ve heard about it and had lots of texts from people asking what’s going on but I can honestly say I have no inclination of what’s happening," said Warburton.

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"The players are often the last people to find out about these things.

"I didn’t understand at first, to be honest, because I don’t bet. I didn’t know whether it was a good or a bad thing.

"My dad was the one who texted me. He loves it, my dad. I said, ‘what does that mean?’ He said there’s some inside information which has got out, or whatever.

“But one minute it’s O’Driscoll, then it’s O’Connell, then myself.”

Gatland has indicated he has made up his mind over who will lead the Lions Down Under but he has not informed the player for fear of alerting the media.

Warburton, who led his country to a World Cup semi-final and 2012 Grand Slam, relinquished the Welsh captaincy during the Six Nations.

But he would have no qualms about accepting the honour.

“It would be a no brainer – it’s the biggest honour for any player,” said Warburton.  

“It’s mind- blowing when you think about it, to have that accolade. Everyone who has done it is a legend of the game.”

And Warburton can hardly believe he could be in line to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Willie John McBride and Martin Johnson.

While watching the 2009 tour of South Africa from his Cardiff living room it seemed implausible. But touring with the Lions has been the driving force that has propelled the Cardiff Blues star to become one of the best flankers in the world.

“It’s flattering just to be in contention for it and I still don’t see myself as one of those players,” said the Cardiff Blues star.

“If someone told me I could be in this position when I was watching the last tour I would have laughed.

“It’s something I get quite emotional about when I talk to my family, I’m so desperate to do it.

“I would love to have a Lions jersey framed on my wall. That’s been the goal since I was a young kid and what has motivated me for a long time.

“It’s constantly in the back of your mind now and everybody is desperate to go on the tour. It’s very close and you’re thinking about it quite a bit.”

Warburton is likely to be training with his region when Gatland announces his tour party a week tomorrow (April 30).

The 24-year-old admits it will be a nerve-wracking day at the region’s headquarters as he and his teammates crowd around the TV.

And if selected Warburton joked he will throw off his clothes and streak around the Blues’ training base.

“The TVs will be on in the canteen but I’ll try not to look too keen as you don’t want to look arrogant, I’ll be watching it in the corner of my eye,” added Warburton.

“It would be dreadful if a player in contention doesn’t make it, hopefully all the Blues boys do. It’s quite funny and strange but players still aren’t talking about it to each other.

“It will be a nervous moment. But if I get the call there will be a temptation to take all my clothes off and run around the training ground naked!”

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