Sam our McCaw - Irvine

Lions manager impressed with Wales captain Warburton

Last Updated: 26/02/12 1:54pm

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Sam Warburton: Looking to lead Wales to another trophy

Sam Warburton: Looking to lead Wales to another trophy

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British and Irish Lions manager Andy Irvine has compared Sam Warburton to World Cup winner Richie McCaw.

The Lions will head to Australia next year with Welshman Warburton favourite to captain the side on the three-Test tour.

The Wales skipper led his side to a 19-12 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday with a performance which led Irvine to hail him as "the northern hemisphere's Richie McCaw".

McCaw captain New Zealand to World Cup glory next year and is regarded as the benchmark to which all other number sevens must measure up.

Former Scotland full-back Irvine was in the Twickenham crowd and said afterwards: "I thought Warburton was outstanding, especially for a guy who has been out injured recently.

"He was brilliant, with his defensive work and how clever he is at the breakdown. He is the northern hemisphere's Richie McCaw."

Wales coach Warren Gatland is a clear favourite to run the Lions playing operation Down Under, but although Irvine would not comment on intense speculation surrounding the New Zealander, he left London enthused after a gripping encounter when several players put their hands up as potential Lions.

Intense

"It took a hell of a performance from Wales in the end to win it, so credit to both sides," he added.

"That is a huge Welsh back division, but what I like about them is they are good rugby players. Sometimes, big men tend to be a wee bit slow, but not these guys.

"I thought George North was absolutely outstanding, he hardly made a mistake. He has got movement and a lot of class, and at the other end of the spectrum Leigh Halfpenny was a revelation.

"He makes a lot of the right decisions, he's quick and is a good all-round rugby player.

"It was a huge physical contest, the collisions were really intense."

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