Warburton to captain Lions as Hartley misses out


Hartley had been selected for the 2013 Lions tour of Australia when he was axed from the squad after receiving a ban for calling referee Wayne Barnes a "cheat" during the English Premiership final. Jared Payne was included after his impressive showing against England and Ross Moriarty rewarded for some explosive performances for Wales last summer in New Zealand and the Six Nations.

"I think very few people can ever expect to be in a Lions squad such as the nature of the competition and the pedigree of it and how much it means".

Dylan Hartley, Joe Launchbury, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, George Ford, Chris Robshaw and James Haskell are all mainstays for their countries but will head off on summer tours, keeping half an eye on events in New Zealand.

Fullbacks-wings: Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Lee Halfpenny, Liam Williams, George North (Wales), Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell (England), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Jared Payne (Ireland).

There was no Scottish forward in a touring party for first time since 1908.

More was expected this time after wins over Wales and Ireland in the Six Nations.

He tweeted: "Lions - you aren't a true fan if there are terms on your support (.ie. pick my players)- all in it together or not: bitch when it's over".

His appointment was confirmed by tour manager John Spencer at yesterday's Lions squad announcement in west London, and comes four years after Warburton captained the Lions in Australia.

Sam Warburton, who captained the Lions to that series victory, has again been named captain of this year's Lions squad.

Discussing the honour of becoming only the second person to captain the side twice, after Martin Johnson, Warburton said: 'It is hard to put it into words.

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Also poised to tour Argentina are prolific try-scoring rugby league convert Denny Solomona, who qualifies for England on residency grounds, and uncapped back-row prospect Sam Underhill.

The tour runs from June 3 to July 8 and will feature six warm-up games before the first Test on June 24.

The squad is heavy on power in both the forwards and at centre, a sign of how grueling Gatland and his coaching staff believe the tour will be.

Other notable names revealed by coach Warren Gatland were Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler, who has yet to start a test for England, England centres Jonathan Joseph and Ben Te'o and Wales number eight Ross Moriarty.

Hartley was not the only notable England omission, with in-form lock Joe Launchbury also missing out.

In the 2013 tour, nine players were summoned as injury cover so all is not lost for those who missed out.

"We believe we've got three hookers there that are the right ones that we need to play the rugby we want to in New Zealand", he added.

"If I am being brutally honest, which I like to pride myself on, I think over the last two years my form has been as good as it's probably been in my career", he said.

"It's one of those positions where we are absolutely spoilt for choice with the options we have".