Wales captain Warburton will miss entire rugby season

FILE - A Saturday, July 1, 2017 file photo of Sam Warburton preparing to pack down in a scrum during the second rugby test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks in Wellington, New Zealand. Wales captain Sam Warburton looks set to miss the entire northern rugby season following knee surgery. Warburton hasn’t played since July, when he led the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

CARDIFF, Wales — Wales captain Sam Warburton will miss the entire northern rugby season following knee surgery.

Warburton hasn't played since July, when he captained the British and Irish Lions to a series draw in New Zealand.

Following rest, he had neck surgery in September so he could return to club action in the new year and be available for another Six Nations tilt.

But Warburton and the Welsh Rugby Union decided that when he returns he should do so free of all aches and pains, so he had his left knee operated on.

"In close consultation with the WRU and Cardiff Blues we decided it would be proactive to have surgery now on a knee injury and I'm looking forward to returning to action fully fit," Warburton said in a statement on Friday.

The recovery is expected to last four to six months.

Wales is scheduled to play two tests in Argentina next June but Warburton may be rested to give himself a full preseason to get fit, just over a year out from what he hopes will be his third Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Warburton has 74 caps for Wales and led the Lions on their last two tours while enduring more than half a dozen surgeries.

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