British & Irish Lion Sam Warburton will be fit and raring to go for Wales’ crucial clash with Ireland next weekend, according to attack coach Rob Howley.
Warburton, who led the Lions against Australia in 2013, has been struggling with a knee injury picked up in last weekend’s hard-fought 20-13 win over France but will be fully recovered in time for next Saturday’s showdown.
The 26-year-old will lead his country out for the 34th time at the Millennium Stadium, breaking the record he currently shares with another Lion, Ryan Jones, for the most times captaining Wales.
Although prop Paul James will miss the Ireland clash with a broken hand, Dan Biggar will be fit and Howley is delighted to have both Biggar and Warburton at his disposal.
“They will both be fit and available for selection,” said Howley. “Sam’s contact was bone on bone: the medical word is contusion but I call it a bruise.
“We are disappointed to be without Paul James – he is one of our senior pros and is a good guy to have around the squad.”
And Howley admits stopping another pair of British & Irish Lions, Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray, will be key to beating the men in green.
“Ireland have smart players and they are experienced,” explained Howley, who has been an assistant coach on the last two Lions tours.
“The key to any international game now is to use an accurate kicking game. Ireland are very astute in that area – Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray are fantastic kickers of the ball and they put you under pressure.
“They ask questions, challenge you, and do not make many mistakes. Territory and possession will be key.”
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