SAM WARBURTON has turned to a £3,000 ice machine to help win his Lions fitness battle.
But the gadget gives him such sleepless nights that he joked it is like looking after a BABY!
Skipper Warburton limped off early in their tour opener against Provincial Barbarians with an ankle problem.
Keep up to date with ALL the latest rugby union news, gossip and rumours
And he has vowed to rule himself out of the First Test against New Zealand a week on Saturday if he is not totally ready.
But after declaring himself fit to face the Highlanders tomorrow, Warburton said: “The machine’s a £3,000 piece of kit so it’s pretty good.
“It lasts about seven hours and you set it to come on automatically every 1½ to two hours overnight.
“You wake with the humming noise of the machine — and a freezing cold ankle!
“So you’re awake for a quarter of an hour, then asleep again. It’s just like having a baby, which I’m perfectly used to!”
Stuart Hogg gives thumbs up after clocking nasty black eye as he runs into team-mate Conor Murray’s elbow
Stuart Hogg’s Lions tour in doubt after bizarre eye injury saw full-back run into team-mate Conor Murray’s elbow
TOUR N ROAR
British & Irish Lions Tour: Fixtures, squad selections, TV schedule and all you need to know
The Lions must score tries and take the game to New Zealand… four penalties won’t suffice
FT Crusaders 3 British Lions 12: Owen Farrell kicks the points for the Lions but they miss huge chances to score tries
KRUISING FOR A BRUISING
George Kruis gives the Lions’ case for the defence and warns All Blacks to expect brutal battle
But flanker Warburton, 28, accepts he cannot face the world champions under-cooked.
He said: “I’ll be honest with Gats — and Gats will be honest with me — if I play on Tuesday and still feel I’m a bit undercut.
“Maybe I could have a blinder but I’ll say if I don’t feel ready. If I make the First Test, that would be a bonus for me.
“But there’s three Tests to get selected for, so it’s not the be all and end all with the first one.”
Warburton led the Lions to an historic series win in Australia in 2013 — but was injured for the last Test and replaced by Sean O’Brien.
Ireland’s O’Brien is the man likely to come in for him again in the opening Test in Auckland if Warburton misses out.
Lions boss Warren Gatland knows what a fully fit and firing Warburton brings to this side.
A Test match animal and specialist poacher at the breakdown, he is key to disrupting the All Blacks.
And Warburton said: “When I play well and am match fit, I am aggressive in the tackle.
“I contribute a handful of good carries — you become a lineout option.
“But more importantly, which hasn’t been a factor in the last three games, is turnovers.
“We haven’t seen a whole lot of turnovers.
“I always say to young back-rowers, if you want to become a top player, you’ve got to be a specialist at something.
“I guess with me that is the contact area. I have to deliver in that area on Tuesday.
“And that is one area that, as Lions, we can step up.”
Meanwhile, Gatland has blasted New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides for illegal scrummaging.
The former All Blacks hooker said: “Our scrum will be very strong when it’s Test time.
“I know there’s some discussion about engagement. The ruling says you must have a small gap — but in Super Rugby they pre-load. So their sides tend to scrummage illegally.
“But I don’t think the scrum’s going to be a problem for us.”
Gatland will expect his scrum to boss the Highlanders in Dunedin on Tuesday.
English props Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler will pack down alongside hooker Rory Best.
But one position still wide open is at outside centre, where Jonathan Joseph gets his chance.
Gatland added: “Each game is a chance for individuals to shine. But, more importantly, it’s about a collective performance.”
Lions team to face Highlanders: Jared Payne, Jack Nowell, Jonathan Joseph, Robbie Henshaw, Tommy Seymour, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Joe Marler, Rory Best, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson, James Haskell, Sam Warburton (capt), CJ Stander. Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Greig Laidlaw, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.