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Sam Warburton facing four months on sidelines as Wales and Cardiff Blues flanker requires neck surgery

  • Lions captain Sam Warburton ruled out for the remainder of the year
  • He needs an operation to fix a long-standing neck injury 
  • Warburton exacerbated the injury after returning to training after Lions tour
  • He will miss Wales' autumn internationals and a chunk of Cardiff Blues season 

Sam Warburton requires surgery on a long-standing neck injury and will be sidelined for up to four months.

The British and Irish Lions captain exacerbated the problem on his return to training this week and scans revealed that an operation is required.

It means Warburton will miss a chunk of the season with the Cardiff Blues and Wales' autumn internationals, leaving Warren Gatland potentially short in the back row.

Sam Warburton could be sidelined for four months to undergo surgery on a neck injury

Sam Warburton could be sidelined for four months to undergo surgery on a neck injury

Warburton, 28, has suffered 20 different injuries during his career on everything from concussion and fractured cheekbones to knee ligament sprains and torn hamstrings.

This news comes as an untimely blow not only for the player but his club and country with Warburton now out of action until 2018.

Wales are set to play Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa in their four autumn matches.  

Warburton had yet to make his first appearance of the season after a post-Lions break before returning to training.

'Sam Warburton will undergo surgery following a recurrence of a long-standing neck injury,' the Welsh region said. 

Flanker is set to miss all of Wales' autumn internationals and a chunk of the domestic season

Flanker is set to miss all of Wales' autumn internationals and a chunk of the domestic season

'The Cardiff Blues flanker, who led the British and Irish Lions to a drawn Test series with New Zealand in the summer, exacerbated the injury in training this week.

'He has undergone scans and has been reviewed by a consultant, who confirmed the management plan.

'It is likely that Sam will miss a period of up to four months.'

Flanker Warburton has played 74 times for Wales and led the Lions on their last two tours – Australia 2013 and then New Zealand.

His absence is a huge blow for the Blues and Wales, with Warburton set to have been a key part of national head coach Gatland's Test plans in November and December.

Wales launch their autumn series against the Wallabies in Cardiff on November 11, before hosting Georgia, then the All Blacks and finally South Africa on December 2. 

Warburton aggravated the injury after returning to training following the Lions tour

Warburton aggravated the injury after returning to training following the Lions tour

Ospreys and Lions flanker Justin Tipuric would be the clear favourite to wear Wales' No 7 shirt in Warburton's absence.

The current recovery timescale, though, indicates that Warburton will be available for Wales' RBS 6 Nations campaign this season, which they kick off against Scotland on February 3.

For the Blues, Warburton's absence comes after they recently lost the services of his fellow flanker Ellis Jenkins for up to 12 weeks because of a serious hamstring injury. 

 

Tags Sport Rugby

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Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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