British & Irish Lions
Warburton shrugs off Lions captain talk
ESPN Staff
April 22, 2013
Wales' Sam Warburton shows off his Man of the Match award, Scotland v Wales, Six Nations, Murrayfield, Scotland, March 9, 2013
One leading bookmaker has stopped taking bets on Sam Warburton being named the British & Irish Lions' captain © PA Photos

Wales' Sam Warburton insists he has not been asked to lead the British & Irish Lions to Australia this summer.

A leading bookmaker has stopped taking bets on the flanker being handed the honour but the 24-year-old is adamant that Lions head coach Warren Gatland has not approached him.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Warburton said he has to ask his father Jez what it meant when bookmakers were no longer taking bets. "I didn't understand at first, to be honest, because I don't bet," he said. "I didn't know whether it was a good or a bad thing. My dad was the one who texted me. He loves it, my dad. I said, 'what does that mean?' He said there's some inside information which has got out, or whatever."

Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll have also been widely tipped for the role with Gatland, who appointed Warburton as Wales captain in 2011, revealing last month that he had chosen his skipper but had not yet alerted the player in question.

"One minute it's O'Connell, the next it's O'Driscoll, then it's me," said Warburton, who lost the Wales captaincy during this year's Six Nations and then later turned it down to concentrate on his own game. "It's difficult from a player's point of view. I've heard about it and had everybody texting me, asking me what's going on. I can only say, though, on my mother's life, I've had no indication.

"The players are often the last ones to find out about these things. So, I'll just keep my head down with the Cardiff Blues. As long as I can keep hopefully playing well, then the decision is completely out of my hands."

But make no mistake, Warburton would relish the chance to lead the elite tourists. "It's a no-brainer," he said. "It's the biggest honour any player could have. It's mind blowing when you think about it - to have that accolade. Everybody who's done it has been a legend and it's very difficult and flattering to think that you're even it contention for it.

"I still don't see myself as one of those players, so it's quite strange, especially at 24. If someone had told me when I was watching the last Lions tour that I could be a potential candidate, I would have laughed.

"When I talk about the Lions with my family I sometimes get a bit emotional. It's because I'm so desperate to do it. I would absolutely love to have a jersey, framed up on my wall. That's always been the goal for me, since I've been a young kid."

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