New Zealand still the best team in the world - Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton, centre, arrived back at Heathrow with the Lions squad on Wednesday afternoon
Sam Warburton, centre, arrived back at Heathrow with the Lions squad on Wednesday afternoon

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton lavished praise on back-to-back World Champions All Blacks following the 1-1 drawn series between the two teams in the recently concluded tour.

Steve Hansen's men were favourites to claim the series following their 31-15 win in the first Test in Auckland but Lions made an incredible comeback in the second game in Wellington with a 21-24 triumph and the 15-15 draw in the final game at Eden Park ensured the honours were shared equally.

Admitting a win would have been special for Lions, Warburton also added that a drawn series against a formidable All Blacks side is still pleasing.

"We're feeling jetlagged! We had a good couple of days together to finish off the tour," the Lions captain said.

"We'd been under the microscope for six to eight weeks so it was nice to have a few days to enjoy each other's company and reflect on what we'd done. In hindsight we're pretty pleased with what we achieved.

"Coming into the tour not many people gave us much of a chance, the odds were against us, so to surprise a few people by drawing was good.

"It didn't surprise us because we believed we could do it, but to surpass people's expectations was good. We're still disappointed not to get the win.

"It's always about winning. I preferred 2013 because we won, but I'm still very proud of what we did on this tour. It was reasonably successful.

"But without doubt New Zealand are the best team in the world. They're back-to-back world champions. Just because we drew it doesn't make us the best.

"They've earned the right to call themselves that because they've played so well over the last 10 years.

"Against anyone else we'd have been disappointed, but you can take some positives out of drawing a series with the back-to-back world champions."

With the global calendar set to kick-off from 2020, the number of Lions games in the future tours is likely to be reduced to eight from 10 but Warburton feels its unlikely to affect the players.

"As long as there is a Lions tour, I'm not too fussed how it happens. From a player's point of view the Lions are massive," Warburton said.

"However many games there are or what the preparation time is, I don't think players will be too fussed as long as they know there's an opportunity to put on the shirt in four years' time.

"If nothing was changed for four years' time and it was the same schedule, at least we know the Lions could go out and be successful again. Hopefully there will be a few tweaks to make it more advantageous for us.

"The Lions will be undefeated (in a series) for eight years by 2021 - that doesn't sound too bad."

The Lions tour was not without controversy as Kyle Sinckler was arrested early on Sunday during a night out in Central Auckland and was later released without a charge. Warburton played down the incident and came in full support of the England international.

"It looks worse than it is. He was released straight away because there were no problems," Warburton said.

"The Lions went to great lengths to look after the boys on nights out, we had a security team involved. People are there looking to make headlines.

"In defence of Kyle, he did absolutely nothing wrong. I feel a bit sorry for him, he's got a bit of press like that, but the situation was handled well and Kyle is fine."