British and Irish Lions to be welcomed at Waitangi ceremony

Wales back-row Warburton, 28, who skippered the combined side on their victorious 2013 tour of Australia, becomes just the second man after England great Martin Johnson (1997 and 2001) to lead the Lions on two tours.

After months of speculation, the British and Irish Lions touring party for their tour to New Zealand this Summer has finally been unveiled by Warren Gatland and his fellow coaches.

Warburton stood down from the Wales captaincy this season and is now out with a knee injury.

He is one of 16 England internationals named in the Lions squad, which will be captained by Welsh back rower Sam Warburton.

"I found out last Thursday when Gats called".

I have previously written that I didn't believe Chris Ashton should be considered for the Lions but in recent matches I have to say he's proven me wrong.

"We believe that Sam's experience and leadership qualities make him an obvious choice as captain".

"He's looked at what happened in '05, when they (the Lions) misread the atmosphere and got it totally wrong".

"After four years ago with not being named in the initial squad and then with everyone saying this time "you've got a good chance to be named in it", to then be sitting round with my family when my name was read out was just elation and that was probably the best word for it".

Jonathan Joseph was included after Gatland decided a player who has caused Wales so much torment on his watch could not be overlooked.

Chairman Nigel Wray has hailed the news that Saracens will be the most represented Club for the upcoming 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand describing the achievement as a "huge honour" for the north London Club.

Launchbury was one of England's best players in the Six Nations title triumph over February and March but three compatriots - Courtney Lawes, George Kruis and Maro Itoje - were picked ahead of him.

LONDON, April 19 Sam Warburton was in a supermarket auto park, waiting for his wife to bring back the bread and milk, when British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland called to ask how he would feel about captaining the side again.

The Kiwi head coach admitted that there were some "pretty lively debates" when the coaches were finalising their squad for the tour which begins on June 3rd.

"Facing New Zealand is going to be tough".

The Lions leave for New Zealand on 29 May and will play three tests against the All Blacks as well as seven provincial matches.

You don't get too many shocks these days with things but it's definitely something that's come out of the blue for me.

"I'm hugely excited for the challenge coming our way, we have a lot of rugby to be played and here's hoping I can get a bit of game time and show what I've got and I will do everything I possibly can to get a starting place".

  • Julie Sanders