Warburton to captain Lions as Hartley misses out

Thursday, 20 Apr, 2017

Every player included is under the age of 27 which is extremely exciting for Saracens and for England, and I'm extremely confident they'll thrive in the red jersey in New Zealand.

"His greatest quality is it is not all about Sam Warburton, it's about the team and putting the team first", Gatland said.

But even against the double defending world champions, Fitzpatrick believes the outcome may be different this time around under Warren Gatland, who announced his 41-man squad on Wednesday. "So when it rang as Gats and I answered and I didn't hear anything, I just hung up because I thought it was Tom James in Merthyr messing around".

"It makes me feel the path I chose to take and the reasons I left (league) are why I am here now".

"I wanted to see his response and he just said "outstanding, I'd love it, it would be awesome".

In 11 trips, the only Lions team to win in the land of the long white cloud were the famous heroes of 1971 when former Headingley centre Spencer was a tourist.

"I know Dylan will be very disappointed not to be selected", said Borthwick, speaking in his capacity as Lions forwards coach - a role he also performs for England.

"I wouldn't have wanted to be the person to pick that Lions back five, I would have felt very guilty because there was always going to be a lot of top players missing out".

He continued: "But I'm not going on the tour to clap everyone on and sit on the bench and play midweek".

"I think that gives you an edge in selection and I think he'll get on that plane believing, like everyone will believe, that he can be number one in the Test series". "Probably the hardest one we've had".

Gatland, a former All Blacks hooker, has preferred Rory Best, who captained Ireland to an historic first win over the All Blacks last November, Wales' Ken Owens and Hartley's England understudy Jamie George aas his three specialist hookers.

"If you can understand New Zealand, the intensity of the place and the opposition it makes us better prepared and it's those small things that will make us better on the field".

On Joe Launchbury/Donnacha Ryan omission: "Courtney Lawes is playing some of the best rugby of his career, the athleticism and work rate of Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, Henderson, the lineout ability for George Kruis".

Away from rugby too Gatland said the Lions would embrace the country's heritage, starting with a Maori welcome. "Then you've got the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Jonathan Davies, Ben Te'o, we've got the ability to play Owen Farrell at 12 as well".

"We all know back in Ireland how important he is to galvanising a backline together, the experience he's had and how he's able to perform in big games is super important to a squad like this". They're the world's best as well at taking setbacks, staying calm and getting back continuity of play again.

Equally at home at centre or fullback and also capable of covering wing, Payne has won 20 test caps since 2014 after meeting the residency requirements to play for Ireland.