Wales' Sam Warburton laughs off British and Irish Lions talk

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Sam Warburton insists that British and Irish Lions talk is not a topic of discussion within Wales' Six Nations squad.

Wales flanker Warburton, the 2013 Lions captain in Australia, is widely expected to be among head coach Warren Gatland's New Zealand-bound squad when it is announced next month.

A final round of Test match auditions take place this weekend as the Six Nations draws to a close in Dublin, Edinburgh and Paris.

While champions England are expected to provide comfortably the biggest single country representation in Gatland's group, Warburton and a number of his Wales colleagues are strong contenders.

But Warburton, speaking ahead of Saturday's clash against France, said: "I actually find it quite funny, because the hype for the Lions starts in August-September, and everyone is picking their hypothetical Lions XVs.

"It has been on my social media, and wherever I go people have been predicting 'you're in, you're out'. It just pops up everywhere you go.

"And as players, there is nothing you can do but laugh it off. I've mentioned it before, but not one player has mentioned the Lions to each other.

"Obviously, guys want to go on that tour -- everybody in our team-room would love to go on the Lions tour -- but it's out of our hands completely.

"So all you can do is play as well as you can, and if you get selected you get selected, and if not, there is still a fantastic tour in the summer with Wales with a couple of Tests. So plenty left to play for."

Warburton's immediate aim will be to target a sixth successive victory for Wales against France, and keep alive the possibility of finishing as Six Nations runners-up behind England.

Along with scrum-half Rhys Webb, he has been a stand-out Wales player during the campaign, while a win in France would also secure a top four world ranking -- if England also beat Ireland -- ahead of May's 2019 World Cup pool draw.

"For us, before the Ireland game [Wales won 22-9], we were staring down the barrel of finishing fifth in the Six Nations, which I would have been gutted about, given all the hard work gone in from the players and management," Warburton added.

"And now, potentially, we could finish second, depending on results. We have been in the top three over the past four or five years consistently now, and we don't want to slip out of that.

"That is the motivation for the players. If we finish second, that's not a bad championship. It wouldn't be great, as our goal is to win, but if we come second, that is not too bad."

Warburton's blistering form this season has coincided with lock Alun Wyn Jones taking over from him as Wales skipper, and he has reiterated how it enables him to concentrate more on individual performance.

"Being captain of Wales carries a lot of weight on the shoulders," he said.

"I remember when I was first captain of Wales I would be walking around the hotel and constantly thinking 'oh my, I'm captain of Wales' and all eyes are on you, you are under the microscope, really.

"Now I have taken myself out of that, it feels like you are under the radar, which takes the pressure off.

"I love the big games, with a lot of pressure on, but with disruption with a few more injuries than I would have liked in the past 12 months, it has been good to take a bit of pressure and heat off myself and work on my own individual performance."