Warburton to lead Lions for Gatland

Head coach Warren Gatland and his assistants named a 41-man squad assigned with the unenviable task of beating the back-to-back World Cup winners in their own backyard - a feat that hasn't been achieved since South Africa got one over the All Blacks in Hamilton nearly eight years ago.

"We couldn't leave Jamie out".

But given Gatland's dire record both against leading southern hemisphere teams and those sides in their backyard, he has some question marks hanging over him.Keep in mind the All Blacks are unbeaten at home since 2009 - and unbeaten at Eden Park, venue for two of the three tests, since 1994.

"I found out last Thursday", Warburton said.

"Every player from 1-23 has to contribute massively in every test match to be able to get the win". I don't think at the moment he is playing as well as the other hookers.

Less than 24 hours after Lions head coach Warren Gatland spoke of taking confidence from Ireland's 40-29 victory against New Zealand in Chicago last November than the riposte arrived from counterpart Steve Hansen.

Hansen expressed surprise at Dylan Hartley's omission but said all coaches saw situations differently. "I think Hartley would have been an asset but I'm not picking the team".

"There is depth all the way through".

Warburton - the skipper for the 2013 tour of Australia - will be the second player to captain the Lions twice, after England great Martin Johnson (1997, 2001).

In the backs, New Zealand-born Ben Te'o, the England centre, provides a powerful midfield option, with Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton set to orchestrate the attack.

The key games included Scotland's trip to Twickenham this year, when the Scots' expectations were shattered by a crushing 61-21 defeat, while Glasgow also suffered a heavy loss in their European Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens, although they had twice thrashed Leicester to get there.

And such recognition for the 23-year-old Gloucester back-row forward underlines how much progress he has made since being handed a Test debut against World Cup warm-up opponents Ireland 20 months ago.

"It is going to be a very good side, and they will come with a lot of expectation, which I think is going to be interesting to see how they cope with that - a lot more expectation than they've been used to, because people expect them to win".

When Devlin asked Hansen whether Sam Whitelock, who has just re-signed with New Zealand until 2020, was test captaincy material, Hansen said: "He is captaining the Crusaders very well and doing a great job in our leadership group and playing very well".

"I would expect we will get a pretty similar style of play to what we have always got when we have played a Warren Gatland coached team".

The 41-man Lions squad, captained by Sam Warburton, was announced yesterday ahead of their 10-match tour, which starts in June and culminates in a three-match series against the All Blacks.

"The fact that the ball gets out wide makes us look good".