Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Captaincy not all-important to Warburton

Sam Warburton, left, and Scott Williams celebrate Wales' Six Nations victory

Sam Warburton has revealed he would have no complaints if he does not regain the Wales captaincy.

The Wales back-row star showered praise on Wales' RBS 6 Nations leaders Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins after they lifted the trophy following a stunning title-clinching 30-3 victory over England.

"To be honest with you, I am just enjoying what we are going through at the moment," Warburton said. "If Ryan was to keep the captaincy or Gethin was to keep it, I wouldn't complain with that. I think they are two phenomenal players with a load of experience, and I am learning off those guys all the time."

Warburton started the Six Nations as skipper after guiding Wales to Grand Slam glory last year and an impressive 2011 World Cup semi-final appearance, but a shoulder injury then sidelined him for Wales' trip to France last month, and Jones took over, masterminding three successive away wins that underpinned the latest Six Nations title triumph.

And when Jones suffered shoulder damage at Murrayfield eight days ago, 98-times-capped Jenkins was then handed the job for a finale that saw Wales produce some of their best rugby in the professional era.

Without the captaincy resting on his shoulders, Warburton delivered towering displays against Scotland and England, returning to his best form less than two months before the British and Irish Lions squad for Australia is announced.

He added: "We have got a lot of great candidates who can do the captaincy. I think people can look into the captaincy a little bit too much. If any of those guys do it, they will do as good a job as anyone.

"The captaincy is a massive honour, but not to have it, I was able just to focus on myself. If I concentrate on my own role, then I have done my bit for the team. It is one less thing to think about, but Ryan and Gethin have done immense jobs since they've stepped in. They are both very experienced players.

"The last two games it was a conversation with Rob Howley (Wales' interim head coach) and we just thought to keep things as they were in the Scotland match and allow me to focus on myself again. For me, the most important thing is starting for Wales and making sure I can play well when I do that."

Warburton was at the forefront of Wales' demolition job on their arch-rivals, bossing the breakdown, tackling ferociously and carrying the ball at regular intervals.

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