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Sam Warburton happy to skip captaincy duties on return to Wales side

Published 10/11/2016

Sam Warburton will return to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday's game against Argentina in Cardiff
Sam Warburton will return to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday's game against Argentina in Cardiff

Sam Warburton has backed the decision that sees Gethin Jenkins remain as Wales skipper for Saturday's Principality Stadium clash against Argentina.

Although Warburton has captained Wales more than any other player, including leading his country in the last two World Cup campaigns, Jenkins retains the job after being in charge for last weekend's home loss to Australia.

Warburton is now in the Wales starting line-up after proving his fitness following a cheekbone injury for his regional team Cardiff Blues six days ago.

"It was quite straightforward," Warburton said.

"Rob (Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley) came up to me and said he was sticking with Gethin for continuity. He thought it was important for me coming back from injury that I focused on my role at number six and get the performance right.

"I completely agree with that, because being captain is a big task. To come back and be captain would have been more difficult than to come back and just focus on my role at six.

"I will still try to influence the play during the game and in the working week, but it's nice for me that I can just focus on playing blindside, and with Justin (Tipuric) at seven, getting that combination right and making sure we improve from last week.

"I was pleased with my performance for the Blues in Treviso. I thought it was really important to play a game at regional level first.

"The sensible thing to do was go back to the club and get 80 minutes with them. I came through unscathed, and I am really looking forward to playing at number six on Saturday."

While Warburton is back for Wales this weekend among six changes following the Wallabies drubbing, his fellow British and Irish Lions Test player Jamie Roberts misses out.

Wales conceded five tries in crashing 32-8 to Australia, and centre Roberts will be on the replacements' bench this weekend as Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams forge the midfield partnership.

"Jamie has been a massive figure for us, and he will still have a big leadership role this week as well, helping Scott and the rest of the team.," Warburton added.

"I remember when we went on the (2013) Lions tour, they said often the best Lions were the guys who aren't involved but are the most supportive, helping the Test team prepare. That will be the same in our set-up.

"If they are not involved in the starting XV, they will be the best team players that they possible can be, to make sure the XV plays as well as possible.

"I don't think any players are complacent. I've always known that every time I take the field for Wales I have to put a good performance in, because you don't want that risk of not being involved the next weekend.

"I don't think Jamie should have the finger pointed at him. Scott Williams is a fantastic player who has been playing exceptionally well for many, many years.

"To me, you could pick Jamie, Jon or Scott in any combination between the three of them and it would not bother me which two were taking the field. It's great for our strength in depth that we have these decisions to make.

"The players are devastated after that (Australia defeat) and they will do everything they can to put it right.

"This Saturday can't come soon enough as players are desperate to put in a good performance, not just for themselves but for their families and for the people who pay for tickets to come and watch us play. We need to put it right for a few people.

"The players are fans, just like everyone else. We grew up watching Welsh rugby and we are desperate for Wales to win."

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