Sam Warburton, the favourite to lead the Lions on their 10-match New Zealand tour, hasn't watched any Super Rugby this season.

It's not a case of taking the Lions challenge lightly of course. The classy Welshman - on a six week layoff because of a knee injury suffered last week - says everything will change if and when he is selected in the touring squad.

"All my focus has been on my regional and club rugby - players will only turn their attention to what is going on down south after they have been chosen," he said.

The 28-year-old led the Lions on their victorious 2013 campaign in Australia and has been anointed by the old Lions supremo Ian McGeechan as the man to head the 2017 squad, which is named next week.


There is plenty of debate around the captaincy, with candidates including Alun Wyn Jones - who took over the Welsh captaincy from Warburton - Owen Farrell, Dylan Hartley and Rory Best the other prospects.

McGeechan told his Telegraph readers Warburton should get the job as he was a ferocious player certain of a test place, had a strong rapport with coach Warren Gatland and impressive captaincy runs on the board.

The injury, described as a low grade strain, may have put doubts about Warburton in some minds. But his Cardiff Blues coach Danny Wilson says the flanker will be fit to tour.

There are six lead up games before the first test in Auckland on June 25, so enough opportunity to find fitness and form. And Warburton is a man who will do anything to make the tour and the grade.

Speaking at his boyhood club Rhiwbina, he revealed a love of the Lions stretching back to his early teens.

"I'd love to be on that plane - the pinnacle of my career so far was being selected for the Lions of 2013. I've always wanted to be a British Lion," he said.

"When I was about 14 or 15, my mum and dad bought me a Lions shirt for Christmas and I wore it everywhere. I loved it.

"You don't know how good you are, what a Lions player might look like, when you are that age. But it was always an ambition of mine.

"Getting my first test shirt off Sir Ian McGeechan is the highlight of my career...that was everything I had sacrificed for since I was a kid."

When asked what Ireland's win over the All Blacks last year could mean for the Lions' prospects, Warburton said it would not affect the players' thinking. The key to winning the series was having 23 match-day players in form.

"Ireland's win was better from a fan's perspective - international players will always believe they can win," he said.

"(To beat the All Blacks) you can't get away with just five or six players playing well."