British & Irish Lions: Sam Warburton aims to secure starting spot

Captain Sam Warburton aimes to play his way back to a spot after a knee injury sidelined the Welsh flanker from the opening two matches in the British & Irish Lions tour.

Sam Warburton, the Lions' captain, is returning from a knee injury.
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SYDNEY // Captain Sam Warburton said Thursday he hopes to nail down his British & Irish Lions Test spot against the NSW Waratahs as head coach Warren Gatland admitted he had not yet decided on his best back row.

A knee injury sidelined the Welsh open-side flanker from the opening two tour wins in Hong Kong and Perth.

He also failed to impress in last weekend's victory over the Queensland Reds.

Despite stiff competition for back-row spots, and calls for Gatland to reward form players, Warburton got the nod for Saturday's game in a team expected to closely resemble the line-up for next week's first Test in Brisbane.

However, the 24-year-old knows he must deliver against the Waratahs with in-form Wales teammate Justin Tipuric among those snapping at his heels and Gatland still unsure of his best loose-forward combination. Gatland added that tour selectors would not decide on the Test side until after Tuesday's match against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra, with the back row one area that remained uncertain.

"I can tell you we are far from made up our mind on the loose forwards and there's a huge amount of options and combinations," he said.

"They're all fit at the moment and all of them have done really well, so that's going to be one headache and the next couple of games will determine that."

Gatland left out Irish star Brian O'Driscoll, saying that the veteran, 34, needed to be managed ahead of the Test series.

"We didn't really want him to play more than one game a week, and at any stage if his body was a little bit sore, then we'd make sure that we keep him fresh and didn't tire him out," he said.

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