Rugby Union

Sam Warburton salutes victorious British & Irish Lions

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British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is reveling in the success on the tour of Australia.

Warren Gatland’s side secured a famous victory down under, becoming just the ninth travelling party to succeed in the southern hemisphere in 125 years.

The magnitude of the success is not lost on 24-year-old Warburton, who believes he was part of a ‘prestigious group’.

"It has been a long time coming this Lions tour so it is nice to come back with a trophy,” said the Welshman.

"It has only been done nine times in 125 years so all the players know they are part of a very prestigious group and are very proud of that."

After bringing the trophy back to Heathrow Airport, the flanker was able to reflect on his own rapid rise up the rugby union ladder.

The Cardiff Blue made his debut for Wales in 2009 – the same time the Lions were touring South Africa – and Warburton admits it will take a long time for the Lions’ success to properly sink in.

"It won't sink in for a long time, I think. It feels quite surreal being part of a Lions touring party," he added.

"Only four years ago I got capped for Wales during the first Lions tour. I got on the development tour and I never thought I would be in this situation four years later.

"Maybe in a few months' time or a few years' time I might watch back a DVD and realise what we achieved."

Warburton played in the opening two tests against the Wallabies, but missed the decider at the ANZ Stadium after injuring his hamstring in the second match.

Understandably, the number seven was a nervous wreck on the touchline, and admits he couldn’t relax until the final stages of the 41-16 victory for the tourists.

"People might have thought I might have relaxed in the 60th-odd minute. But, being the pessimist I am and knowing Australia can always strike back with a few tries in a few minutes, I could not relax until it was five minutes to go,” concluded Warburton.

"I figured out in my head that they had to get a try every 75 seconds to win, which I would have backed our defence on that one. That's the point I start smiling and celebrating."

British & Irish Lions
Rugby Union
Sam Warburton
Australia Rugby
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