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Warburton salutes Lions following drawn series

8th July 2017

Sam Warburton was left almost speechless after an "epic" British & Irish Lions Test series ended in a draw with New Zealand but he was immensely proud of his team's effort.

With the series tied one-all going into the Eden Park decider, it was a winner-takes-all clash but for just the second time in Lions history it ended in stalemate.

Nonetheless it was a monumental achievement from Warburton and his pride of Lions, against an All Blacks side who have won back-to-back World Cups.

Only one Lions squad, the tourists of 1971, have managed to secure a series win in the Land of the Long White Cloud and the All Blacks have not lost at the Auckland venue since 1994

And while the 2017 squad could not clinch the series, Warburton remained pleased with the effort and achievements made.

He said: “It is a difficult one, it has got to be a first. It is difficult as players, if you go through the pressure and the emotion of the week, it is all geared towards winning.

“But, I guess, it is better than losing. We didn’t lose the series. To be honest, I am a bit speechless, I don’t know what to make of that. I was ready to go into extra-time! My legs weren’t, they are cramping up everywhere.

“To come to the double world champs, what they have done over the last six to eight years was incredible, so to come here and not get beaten, we can take some credit for that.

“We knew the challenge coming into is, we had six to eight weeks to become the best team in the world and we had to beat the best team in the world. We can take positives from it but as players we want to win.”

Warburton remains unbeaten as a Lions Test series captain and he delivered a stunning performance in the decider.

But he refused to take individual plaudits and instead saluted the collective effort of the entire Lions party.

He continued: “There are no individual accolades when you’re captain, this is a massive team effort. It doesn’t matter if I was captain or one of the other 12 guys, it’s a huge team effort, and not just the 41 players but the 80 that are here, the squad, staff and management. 

“We have a great team and environment and it has been a privilege to work with them.

Speaking about the phenomenal support in New Zealand, the Cardiff Blues ace added: “You don’t get away support like this, this far on the other side of the world in any other sport so a massive thank you to the fans.

“The players do not underestimate all the time, effort and money you spend to come half way across the world to watch us play and that makes a massive difference to us.”