British and Irish Lions: Sam Warburton boosted by Graham Rowntree's praise

Last Updated: 15/06/13 3:58pm

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Graham Rowntree: Has been impressed by Sam Warburton

Graham Rowntree: Has been impressed by Sam Warburton

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British and Irish Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree has praised the attitude of under-pressure captain Sam Warburton.

The Wales flanker lines up against the Waratahs on Saturday knowing he needs a big performance after some impressive displays from his back-row rivals on the tour so far.

But with the first Test against Australia fast-approaching, Warburton has received a much-needed boost from Rowntree.

"I have been very impressed with Sam," said Rowntree.

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"He is very professional. He is certainly not showing any signs of stress or pressure.

"Like all the other players, he goes about his business. I have been really impressed with him as a person.

"He is a doer, and a lot of guys are following his lead in terms of his attitude to training, his diligence.

"It is not getting any easier in terms of selection. There are a lot of guys putting their hands up.

"We will get tomorrow out of the way, and then Tuesday (against the Brumbies), and then we will pick a Test team. That is the truth."

Bump

Rowntree is hoping that Scotland lock Richie Gray will be fit for the Brumbies clash after being ruled out of Saturday's clash with a shoulder injury.

"He has got a bump on his shoulder," Rowntree said.

"He is certainly not fit for this weekend, and we are hoping he is going to be fit for Tuesday. At this stage, I am counting on him being fit for Tuesday."

The Lions lineout struggled to function during last Tuesday's 64-0 rout of a Combined Country XV in Newcastle.

However Rowntree insists that it was a case of combinations not gelling yet rather than it being a weakness.

"We had a few issues in the lineout on Tuesday night," he added. "We dropped three from 16, but a lot of that was just personnel that hadn't played a lot together.

"That's what you get on a tour like this. You take it on the chin and move on.

"I actually thought they battled very well as a pack on Tuesday night. They didn't really get enough credit for the performance they put in."

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