Rugby union - Skipper Warburton to start in Lions opener

British and Irish Lions rugby captain Sam Warburton (AFP Photo/MICHAEL BRADLEY)

- The British and Irish Lions have thrown captain Sam Warburton straight into the fray as they look to make a winning start to their tour of New Zealand. Warburton, who is returning from a knee injury that sidelined him in April, will lead a powerful line-up against a Provincial Barbarians XV in Whangarei on Saturday. The 28-year-old Welsh flanker will start alongside three national captains -- Wales's Alun Wyn Jones, Ireland's Rory Best and Scotland's Greig Laidlaw. Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton will also bring a wealth of experience as the Lions face a Barbarians team widely regarded as their weakest opponent on the 10-match tour. Lions (15-1): Stuart Hogg (Glasgow, Scotland); Anthony Watson (Bath, England), Jonathan Joseph (Bath, England), Ben T'eo (Worcester, England), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow, Scotland); Johnny Sexton (Leinster, Ireland), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, Scotland); Taulupe Faletau (Bath, Wales), Sam Warburton (c)(Cardiff, Wales), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester, Wales); Iain Henderson (Ulster, Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales); Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, England), Rory Best (Ulster, Ireland), Joe Marler (Harlequins, England).

AFP