British and Irish Lions 2013: Captain Sam Warburton given backing by Graham Rowntree

The Lions take on New South Wales Waratahs this weekend

Sam Warburton has been given a ringing endorsement as he prepares to lead the British and Irish Lions against New South Wales Waratahs tomorrow.

It will be only the Wales flanker's second start on tour, with some pundits suggesting he could be under pressure for a place in next week's first Test starting line-up.

But the back-row tomorrow of Tom Croft, Warburton and Jamie Heaslip could also be the one Lions head coach Warren Gatland decides to go with against Australia in Brisbane.

"I have been very impressed with Sam," Lions assistant coach and forwards guru Graham Rowntree said following today's training session at North Sydney Oval.

"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."

Rowntree added that it is hoped Scotland lock Richie Gray will be fit for the Brumbies clash, while wing George North (tight hamstring) took no part in today's work-out, although centre Manu Tuilagi did as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury.

"He (Gray) 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 had its moments of malfunction during last Tuesday's 64-0 stroll over a Combined Country XV in Newcastle, while the Waratahs are boosted tomorrow by key forward Dave Dennis being temporarily released from pre-Test series Wallabies training.

"Dave Dennis coming back in will bolster their lineout for tomorrow. He's a good player, he has got some Test experience," Rowntree said.

"We had a few issues in the lineout on Tuesday night. 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."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'