Six Nations: Wales boss Rob Howley plays down impact of Sam Warburton exclusion

Wales captain among favourites to captain the Lions this summer

Wales interim boss Rob Howley does not believe the decision to omit Sam Warburton from his starting XV to face Italy will hurt the flanker's chances of captaining the Lions this summer.

Warburton missed last weekend's win over France after picking up a shoulder injury in the defeat to Ireland, but is expected to be available for the meeting with the Azzurri a week on Saturday.

However, Ryan Jones led the side superbly in Paris, while Justin Tipuric excelled in Warburton's favoured number seven role.

As a result Howley has elected to reward the side that triumphed 16-6 at Stade de France by saying 'same again' for the trip to Rome, although Warburton may yet be named among the replacements.

Warburton started the season as the outstanding candidate to lead the British & Irish Lions on their summer tour to Australia.

But his struggle to produce the sort of form that made him the star on the 2011 World Cup, allied to the excellent performances of Tipuric, Chris Robshaw and Sean O'Brien, mean he is in danger of slipping down the pecking order for a place on the plane to Australia.

No longer being an automatic pick for Wales does not help his cause but Howley, filling in for Warren Gatland while the Kiwi is away on Lions duty, does not believe his selection for the Stadio Olimpico clash will harm the 24-year-old's chances.

"Not at all," said Howley. "Although I think that is a question for Warren Gatland, not for me.

"But there have been many players not playing international rugby who have come into a Lions selection.

"So it is not a given that you have to be playing international rugby to go on a Lions tour, and it's not a given you have to be captain of your national team to be captain of the Lions."

Howley did not consult Gatland before making his decision on selection for the Italy game, but did back Warburton to bounce back and find his best form.

"Any decision you make on selection, you take your time and make sure you reflect properly after the game and think out the team and the consequences of those selections.

"In my mind it was clear that to give this side the best opportunity to go and play against Italy in terms of preparation and to reward performances on the weekend I had to go with the same side.

"I have spoken to Sam and he understands that's the nature of sport.

"I am sure Sam will be an excellent captain in his career, but for this game we decided to go with same 15. The pressure on this side for Italy is the same as it was going to Paris."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project