Warburton close to Wales return ahead of 1st test

Warburton close to Wales return ahead of 1st test

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:09 p.m. ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Wales captain Sam Warburton is close to overcoming a shoulder injury and being cleared to play in Saturday's first test against a New Zealand team that looks likely to be without lock Sam Whitelock and reserve scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Warburton's fitness has encouraged team management and his chances of being named on Thursday and playing in the first match of the three-test series have improved.

Assistant coach Shaun Edwards said ''Sam is one of the few guys possibly who can go into a game not having played for a few weeks and be pretty sharp.''

New Zealand's Whitelock is recovering from a hamstring strain, and Kerr-Barlow who has a broken hand, and appear less likely than Warburton to be able to shake off the injuries for the first test.