Rugby Union

Paul O'Connell set for Lions captaincy

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Paul O'Connell will captain the British and Irish Lions in their tour opener against the Barbarians on Saturday.

O'Connell will replace Sam Warburton as captain who is ruled out with a knee injury.

The Irishman, O'Connell, has admitted he feels sorry for Warburton but is happy to be given the opportunity to captain.


O'Connell told The Telegraph: “I am disappointed for Sam,” 

“He has run a great ship for the last two weeks so I am sure he is disappointed not to lead the boys out for the first game.

"I got to do that last time around so I am sure he is disappointed but for I am thrilled and really looking forward to it."

Head coach Warren Gatland's starting line-up is heavily dominated by Welsh players with nine of the starting 15 coming from Wales despite Warburton's absence.

Gatland believes that O'Connell, who captained the Lions tour in 2009, deserves the captaincy and his decision was a simple one.

“It was a pretty easy decision,” said Gatland. “He has been great around the squad for the last few weeks.

He has done a great job supporting Sam and given us some general leadership."

Gatland has named a 23-man squad that features 17 players on their first lions tour and O'Connell, who is the only Irishman in the squad, knows it's important that squad gel quickly.

“There is a big buzz and big excitement about making this tour very special. I suppose there is a few of us who have been on a few before and have not been successful and it is not the greatest feeling ever.

“We want to become a team as quickly as possible and be a success for the Lions.”

British and Irish Lions team to face the Barbarians in Hong Kong:

S Hogg (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales), J Davies (Wales), J Roberts (Wales), S Maitland (Scotland); O Farrell (England), M Phillips (Wales); M Vunipola (England), R Hibbard (Wales), A Jones (Wales), R Gray (Scotland), P O'Connell (Ireland, capt), D Lydiate (Wales), J Tipuric (Wales), T Faletau (Wales). Replacements: T Youngs (England), C Healy (Ireland), M Stevens (England), A W Jones (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland), J Sexton (Ireland), G North (Wales).

 

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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