British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton
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Warburton learned of Lions honour in supermarket car park
For the second British and Irish Lions tour running, Sam Warburton has been named captain.

SAM WARBURTON’S TRIP to the shops was interrupted by what he thought was a prank phone call to tell him he was to be British and Irish Lions captain for a second time.

The Wales flanker, who skippered the side in 2013, was confirmed as Warren Gatland’s choice to lead the team on the tour to New Zealand when the squad was named on Wednesday.

Warburton, who relinquished the Wales captaincy in January, revealed he had found out the news last Thursday, while waiting around in a supermarket car park to avoid the prying questions of an avid rugby fan inside.

The 28-year-old said of the honour: “It’s hard to put into words really. Even four years later, the 2013 tour hasn’t really sunk in to be honest.

“We had a dinner [on Tuesday] with all the ex-captains from the previous Lions tours. It’s only when you’re sat down at that table and you see the company you’re with you kind of see what you’re doing.

“That really hit home to how big a deal it is, especially this time around with New Zealand, arguably the toughest tour. Amazing challenge, amazing opportunity.

“I found out last Thursday. I was just in the supermarket car park, my wife was getting some bread and milk. I didn’t want to go in because the cashier loves rugby, I didn’t want to answer any questions about the Lions.

“I think I hung up on Gats first time as I thought it was one of the boys from the [Cardiff] Blues messing around. I’ve had it every day for the last three weeks, the boys constantly asking me, but I genuinely didn’t know.”

Gatland, who oversaw the 2-1 win in Australia four years ago, underlined the need for the rest of the squad to support their skipper, whose experience in the role counted significantly in his favour.

Asked to explain his selection, Gatland said: “I think the experience of having captained the team in 2013. He’s fully aware that his form needs to be good enough to be selected in the Test team, so there’s going to be some pressure on him for that. But I think he’s just the right man for the job.

“It was a tough call, there’s got to be other players in the squad that are going to need to provide leadership. That’s going to be really important to support Sam. He did a really great job in 2013, so for us it was a natural choice.”

11 Ireland players included in British and Irish Lions squad for New Zealand tour

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