Scott Quinnell: Pressure on Lions captain Sam Warburton to perform

Last Updated: 05/06/13 4:58pm

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Sam Warburton has missed the Lions' opening two games due to a knee injury

Sam Warburton has missed the Lions' opening two games due to a knee injury

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Scott Quinnell says British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton needs to lay down a marker if he features against the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

Quinnell has been impressed by the performances of opensides Justin Tipuric and Sean O'Brien during the Lions' opening two games against the Barbarians and Western Force.

Warburton missed both of those outings due to a knee injury but is expected to play against the Reds, and Sky Sports expert Quinnell says he needs to put in a decent shift.

"Sean and Justin have been outstanding so far on tour," said the former Wales and Lions No 8.

"Sam will be delighted with the two wins but will be thinking 'Come on, I need to get on that pitch and show what I can do'.

"He's been picked as Lions captain so the one thing he'll want to do is stick the jersey on and lead the side, so he'll be desperate to play and make his mark.

"It just shows how the strong the squad is and we always knew that back row would be very competitive.

"The way Jamie Heaslip and Tom Croft played (against Western Force) showed it's going to be a battle royal at six, seven and eight.

"Between Heaslip and Toby Faletau at number eight you could decide by flipping a coin and seeing which way it lands because they've both been outstanding.

"It's still too early to tell who will be picked for the Test series and it will take four more games before they decide on their back row."

Weakened

The Force, who lie third from bottom in the Super 15 table, fielded a weakened team for the first of the Lions' nine fixtures in Australia, prompting Sir Clive Woodward to declare the tourists were being treated with "contempt".

But while their spirit was commendable, they were easy pickings for vastly superior opposition that ran in nine tries at Patersons Stadium.

Seven members of the squad had never played Super Rugby before and Quinnell was dismayed by their decision to select a second string in anticipation of Sunday's match against the Waratahs.

"I'm bitterly disappointed that they didn't put their strongest squad out - especially because they won't win the Super 15 this year," he said.

"You can understand why (Australia coach) Robbie Deans wants to keep his international squad players out of harms away, especially given the injuries they've had, but you play your best side apart that.

"People aren't looking at the player side of it because if I was a Western Force player and had to sit it out because I had a game on the weekend I'd be very disappointed."

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