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Gatland: Warburton should miss club games

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017
Sam Warburton © Getty Images Sam Warburton

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton should ideally not play in Cardiff Blues' remaining fixtures and focus on regaining his fitness for next month's tour of New Zealand, head coach Warren Gatland says.

Cardiff travel to Stade Francais on Friday for their European Champions Cup semi-final play-off and a victory will see them face either Northampton or Gloucester in the final on May 26.

Warburton, who is on the mend after sustaining a knee injury in April, will captain his second Lions squad and Gatland said that the Welshman must focus on his fitness.

"It would be ideal for us if he didn't play for the Blues," Gatland told British media.

"Sam thinks he is ok at the moment. The plan is that he will stay with us and do some hard conditioning work with contact as well."

Gatland says it is important his players are fully fit from the start of the gruelling tour.

He is wary of teams in New Zealand that would like little more than to upset the Lions.

"The opposition teams will relish a Lions scalp and my challenge is to communicate that to the squad... they will see it as a chance to make a name for themselves, do something special, create a bit of history," Gatland said.

The Lions begin their New Zealand tour against the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on June 3.

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