SAM Warburton, the British and Irish Lions captain, is a doubt for the deciding Test against Australia in Sydney after sustaining a hamstring injury in yesterday’s 16-15 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Warburton was helped from the pitch in the 67th minute and watched from the sidelines as Wallabies centre Christian Leali’ifano converted Adam Ashley-Cooper’s late try to seal the win and level the series.
A clearer picture of Warburton’s availability for the decider should emerge by tomorrow and the 24-year-old Wales flanker is prepared to do whatever it takes to lead the Lions at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney in Saturday’s third Test.
“I have a sore hamstring at the moment. The normal protocol is ice every two hours throughout the night,” Warburton said. “The physios never make a proper assessment until 24-48 hours, so on Monday I should know what’s going on.
“I haven’t done this injury before. Normally, if I’ve tweaked a knee I know what it is, but this is a new injury. Of course I want to lead the team in the third Test and I’ll do everything I can to do that.”
For a second successive weekend the losing side failed with a long-range penalty that would have clinched victory in the last act of the game, but this time it was the Lions who were mourning.
Leigh Halfpenny, who had already kicked 15 points, fell short with a 55-metre attempt and Australia celebrated at having hauled themselves back into series contention.
Halfpenny has missed only four kicks all tour – completing 32 out of 36 – and Warburton refused to blame his Wales team-mate for an agonising result.
“I’ve seen Leigh kick those before so it was a good decision to go for the three points. In training he’ll bang them over,” Warburton said. “He just didn’t connect on this occasion, but he can’t blame himself because it was an extremely difficult kick. Come Monday morning he’ll be fine and as good as gold.
“It was a realistic chance to win the Test series and if I’d still been on the pitch I would have looked at Leigh straight away and told him to go for it.”
Once again no Scot took part in the action, with prop Ryan Grant an unused substitute, as Sean Maitland had been in last week’s first Test.