Wales captain Sam Warburton has been confirmed as the tour captain for the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia this coming summer.

The Cardiff-born openside flanker beat out competition from the likes of Irishmen Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip, as well as current England captain Chris Robshaw, who misses out on a place in the squad completely.

Robshaw was not the only high-profile absentee from this year's squad, announced by Chairman Gerald Davies: Up-and-coming England youngster Joe Launchbury and fellow second row Courtney Lawes both miss out, alongside Ben Morgan and Ireland hooker Rory Best in the pack.

Surprise inclusions come in the form of Welshmen Ian Evans and Justin Tipuric, and Matt Stevens, who returns to the Lions squad for the first time since 2005. Dan Lydiate became the fourth Welsh back row player included, after overcoming a broken leg and proving himself worthy in time for Lions selection.

The exclusion of Jonny Wilkinson will make the back-pages as the major omission from the backs, after some stellar performances towards the end of the season, especially against rival Owen Farrell in last weekend's Heineken Cup semi-final. Warren Gatland has instead chosen to opt for only two number tens: Jonny Sexton and the more versatile Farrell.

Sean Maitland, the former Maori All-Black, provided the biggest shock during the squad announcement, adding insult to injury with the news that there was not a single England player in the back three for the first time in British & Irish Lions history! The likes of Chris Ashton, Mike Brown and Alex Goode all miss out.

Overall, fifteen Welshmen, ten from England, nine from Ireland and three Scotsmen will join Warren Gatland and his coaching team on the plane to Hong Kong to kick off the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour against the Barbarians. Here is the 2013 British & Irish Lions squad:


Dan Cole (England), Cian Healey (Ireland), Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones (both Wales), Matt Stevens, Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley (all England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Tom Youngs (England), Ian Evans (Wales), Richie Gray (Scotland), Alun-Wynn Jones (Wales), Paul O'Connell (Ireland), Geoff Parling, Tom Croft (both England), Toby Faletau (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (Captain – both Wales).


Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe (both Ireland), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland), George North, Jonathan Davies (both Wales), Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (both England), Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray (both Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).

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