Lions fear Sam Warburton is out of final Test

Captain is a significant doubt for the biggest game of the rugby year after suffering a hamstring injury 14 minutes from the end of 16-15 defeat to Wallabies

Melbourne

The Lions are licking any number of wounds after narrowly failing to win a first Test series in the southern hemisphere since 1997, but one wound in particular will be tormenting them ahead of next weekend's third and final meeting with the Wallabies in Sydney. Sam Warburton, their captain, is a significant doubt for the biggest game of the rugby year after suffering a hamstring injury 14 minutes from the end of yesterday's 16-15 defeat.

While the Welsh flanker, the Lions' best player in a contest that generated infinitely more tension than exhilarating rugby, will not know until tomorrow how his prospects are shaping up, there was immediate concern amongst the Lions hierarchy. They can ill afford to forfeit their leader, so soon after losing a former Lions skipper in Paul O'Connell to a broken arm.

"I've never had a hamstring injury before," said Warburton, who had to be helped off the field by two members of the Lions' medical staff. "If it was another problem with my knee, I'd understand more about it. This is new to me and I don't think the medics will make any firm diagnosis for at least 24 hours, maybe 48 hours. I'm desperate to play in Sydney. We'll just have to see how it goes."

If Warburton is ruled out of the decider, another Welsh breakaway specialist, Justin Tipuric, will be the hot favourite to win a first Lions Test cap in the back row. As for the captaincy, there will be only one candidate: the great Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll, now on his fourth and final tour and the emotional centrepiece of this squad.

Meanwhile, the citing commissioner, Glenn Newman of New Zealand, was said to be looking into a small number of incidents that may or may not result in disciplinary action. The most obvious one concerned the Lions prop Mako Vunipola, who made contact with Adam Ashley-Cooper – scorer of the game's only try – as the Wallaby centre chased a first-half restart. Ashley-Cooper was left on the ground, with the Australians claiming he had been illegally charged.

Warren Gatland, the Lions' head coach, did his best to put on a brave face and showered sympathy on the full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who missed a long and wickedly difficult penalty with the last kick of the game – a kick that would have rendered the Sydney Test irrelevant.

"I've seen Leigh kick them from there before," Gatland said, "but he just didn't strike that one well enough. He understood the significance of the shot, he had a chance to be a hero in that moment and he's disappointed he missed, but I don't think I'll have to do anything to pick him up. He's such a professional and he's still kicking incredibly well.

"He failed with two long kicks out there, the first of which hit the crossbar, and that's the difference at this level. But actually, I think losing Sam was the blow that really hurt us. His injury forced us to reshuffle things in a way we hadn't planned."

Suggested Topics
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice