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Woodward backs Warburton captaincy

22nd March 2013 09:18

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Wales flank Sam Warburton getting man of the match award

Tipped to lead: Sam Warburton

Former Lions head coach Sir Clive Woodward has backed Wales flanker Sam Warburton to lead the side in Australia.

Woodward was in charge when the Lions toured New Zealand in 2005, losing the Test series 3-0, and made Brian O'Driscoll his captain at the time before the Ireland skipper was ruled out through injury.

Warburton was dropped as Wales captain for the remainder of the Six Nations after recovering from injury, producing some of his best form against Scotland and England as first Ryan Jones and then Gethin Jenkins took over.

The Cardiff Blues flanker captained Wales to the Rugby World Cup semi-final in 2011 and to a Grand Slam title in 2012 under Lions coach Warren Gatland, making him a contender to lead the Lions down under.

"Warburton would be favourite for me," said Woodward.

"The Lions captain has to be an automatic choice -- you can't have a captain who any players question should be in the team. I think Warburton is back to his best.

"I think it's about picking players who are playing well at the moment. It's a difficult job and I think he (Gatland) is in a great position. We all wish him well.

"I think the Lions have a great chance. I think Warren has the players and will be very confident after Saturday's round of Six Nations games. But it will be a hugely challenging tour.

"I was lucky enough to live in Australia for five years. People here think the Lions is huge because it's every four years. But in Australia it's every 12 years so if anything it is even bigger. Many Australian players never get the chance to play the Lions."