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Sam Warburton 'an absolute professional' - Gatland

Warren Gatland says Sam Warburton's professionalism and leadership skills are the reasons he selected him as his captain.

In the last two or three years he's been the most successful captain in the Northern Hemisphere.

I have a huge amount of respect for Sam. He's an absolute professional and he leads from the front.

Gatland admitted it had been tough to leave out the likes of Robshaw and Wilkinson.

There was a robust debate about the squad and there were healthy discussions for every position.

Some real quality players have missed out. We had a thorough process and it's been tough.

He did offer hope to those left out, however, saying: "If you look at previous tours, six to eight players get injured and there will be a group of back-up players who can be called upon."


Lions 2013: Twitter reaction


Welsh players hotly tipped for Lions squad

David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Sam Warburton may be named as captain for the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia. The Welsh skipper has been tipped by many commentators as the most likely choice to lead the squad.

Welsh players are expected to be well-represented with the Six Nations title winners likely to have the strongest contingent.

The 37 man squad will start their tour with a warm up game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1st June 2013.

They'll then fly to Australia for a series of games before the first test against Australia on 22nd June in Brisbane. The second and third tests take place on 29th June in Melbourne and 6th July in Sydney.

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Sam Warburton is favourite for Lions' captaincy

More than a third of this summer's British and Irish Lions tour squad is expected to be provided by Wales.

The 38-man group for Australia will be unveiled today, with Sam Warburton the favourite for the Lions captaincy, aged 24, he could become Wales' youngest Lions tour captain.

Wales Sam Warburton during the RBS Six Nations match at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Credit: David Davies/PA Archive

Warburton has already led Wales to a World Cup semi-final in 2011, and a Six Nations title and Grand Slam last season.

At least 14 of his countrymen could join him, with Ireland likely to provide the second biggest number, followed by England and then Scotland.

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