Warburton out of Sydney series-decider
July 1, 2013
Sam Warburton is helped from the field during the Lions' second Test defeat in Melbourne on Saturday © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has been ruled out of the series-decider with Australia in Sydney on Saturday with a hamstring injury.
Lions' casualty list
Warburton limped out of the Lions' agonising 16-15 second Test defeat to the Wallabies at the weekend and remained in Melbourne after the match to undergo a full medical assessment. Scans have since confirmed a significant tear in his left hamstring meaning he will play no part in the ANZ Stadium clash with the captaincy set to pass to centre Brian O'Driscoll.
Warburton, who will remain with the tour party, said: "It is incredibly disappointing to be ruled out of the tour through injury as we head to Sydney for the deciding match. I wish the team all the best and hope I can play some part in the build up this week. I am confident that the boys can finish the job off and secure the series win."
His loss is a significant blow to the Lions' hopes of a first series win since 1997 and a first against the Wallabies since 1989 - especially given Warburton's influence at the all-important breakdown battle on Saturday. Former England and Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward was one of those impressed, labelling his 70 minute showing "the most outstanding performance I have ever seen from a Lion."
Lions head coach Warren Gatland is likely to call on versatile Ireland back-row forward Sean O'Brien to fill the void although Warburton's Wales team-mate Justin Tipuric could also make the starting line-up that will be announced on Wednesday.
O'Driscoll skippered the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 before injury brought a premature end to his tour and he also led the side in their tour matches against the Western Force and the Combined Country last month.
Warburton is just the latest casualty that the Lions have had to deal with since their initial squad was announced in May. Hooker Dylan Hartley (suspension), prop Cian Healy (calf), prop Gethin Jenkins (calf) and lock Paul O'Connell (broken arm) have all been sidelined in recent weeks with an unprecedented number of replacements drafted into the squad.
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