British Lions

Warburton: The biggest game of our careers

2017-07-07 18:53
Sam Warburton (Getty)

Auckland - Lions captain Sam Warburton believes Saturday's decisive third Test against the All Blacks will be the biggest game of the Lions players' careers. 

With the series evenly poised at 1-1, the Lions have a chance to make history by becoming the first touring side to win a series on All Blacks soil since 1971. 

Furthermore, they will be the first side to win at Eden Park since 1994 in which time the All Blacks have won 37 straight times at the Auckland venue. 

The Wales flank captained the Lions to a series victory over Australia in 2013 but missed out on the series-clinching third Test win with a hamstring injury. 

Tour captain Warburton began the first Test against the All Blacks out of the side, but regained his place over temporary captain Peter O'Mahony for the second Test and is delighted to have been included from the start for the third. 

And Warburton is well aware of the importance of Saturday's encounter and believes if the Lions win, it will represent the pinnacle of their careers. 

"It is definitely the biggest challenge we have had in all of our careers including previous Lions tours, World Cups, Six Nations and all the big games in Europe the lads have been involved in," he told Sky Sports News HQ. 

"This has got to be up there. If we win it will be a career highlight for every single man, not just for the 41 but also the management. They have all been through the same emotions as the players.

"It's a massive, massive team effort, and so if we win it, it definitely will be up there as the pinnacle of our careers. 

"It is a difficult one, you are obviously aware that if you win it is huge in rugby history. You are aware of it but you don't really try and think too much. 

"The main thing you think about is your own individual role, what you've got to get right to make sure your cog in the team turns properly, and if everyone can do that as a collective then you will be good. 

"You are obviously well aware of it, you would be lying if you said you weren't, but you do try and take yourself away from that and remain completely focused on the job ahead."

Teams

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa

British and Irish Lions

15 Liam Williams (Scarlets/WAL), 14 Anthony Watson (Bath/ENG), 13 Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/WAL), 12 Owen Farrell (Saracens/ENG), 11 Elliot Daly (Wasps/ENG), 10 Johnny Sexton (Leinster/IRL), 9 Conor Murray (Munster/IRL), 8 Taulupe Faletau (Bath/ENG), 7 Sean O'Brien (Leinster/IRL), 6 Sam Warburton (captain, Cardiff/WAL), 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/WAL), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens/ENG), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/IRL), 2 Jamie George (Saracens/ENG), 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens/ ENG)

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens (Scarlets/WAL), 17 Jack McGrath (Leinster/IRL), 18 Kyle Sinckler(Harlequins/ENG), 19 Courtney Lawes (Northampton/ENG), 20 CJ Stander (Munster/IRL), 21 Rhys Webb (Ospreys/WAL), 22 Ben Te'o (Worcester/ENG), 23 Jack Nowell (Exeter/ENG)

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