Gatland backed to lead Lions

Grand Slam winner hails his "fantastic coach"

Last Updated: 20/03/12 7:07am

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Warren Gatland: Backed to be Lions coach in 2013

Warren Gatland: Backed to be Lions coach in 2013

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Wales captain Sam Warburton has thrown his support behind Warren Gatland to be appointed head coach of the 2013 British and Irish Lions.

It's understood Wales' double Grand Slam and RBS 6 Nations title-winning mastermind will be interviewed for the post along with Ireland boss Declan Kidney and Scotland's Andy Robinson.

But it is thought that New Zealander Gatland's appointment is viewed as a formality for the three-Test trip to Australia. It should be confirmed next month.

"I love working with him - he is a fantastic coach," Warburton said.

"If you look at his record - two Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final - he deserves the Lions job. He gets the best out of players, and I owe a lot to him. He put his faith in me as a young player and captain."

Injury worry

Warburton, meanwhile, is due to see a specialist on Tuesday in an attempt to gauge the extent of a shoulder injury that forced him off during last Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title clincher against France.

It was his third different injury of this season's Six Nations following earlier thigh and knee trouble that contributed to him playing just 160 minutes from a possible 400 in the championship.

Warburton has already undergone an MRI scan, but that proved inconclusive.

"Not much showed up on it," he added. "There is a bit of concern because I am still in quite a bit of discomfort.

"I am seeing a specialist, and I will find out more then. The MRI scan did not show any soft issue damage. It may be that it is more complicated than that, such as something to do with nerves, which would not have shown up.

"I do not know what to think - it could be two weeks, or it could be two months. I hope it is shorter, rather than longer."

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