Sam Warburton inspired by TV show Friends to feel selection fear for Wales
Sam Warburton was inspired by American sitcom 'Friends' to put the fear factor back into his selection for Wales.
Lock Alun Wyn Jones will lead Wales into Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield, having succeeded Warburton as skipper ahead of this season's tournament.
Warburton delivered outstanding displays when Wales took on Italy and England earlier this month, and he is certain that no longer having the captain's armband has benefited him.
"If you are captain, it is a massive call to drop you," he said
"It sounds a bit stupid, but I recall an episode of Friends where they recommend Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston) leaves her job. When asked why, they said: 'Because you need the fear'.
"It is a similar thing with this. I genuinely wanted to not be captain because you needed to play not knowing you will be involved in the next game.
"You need to have that fear of being unselected. That is what drives you every week.
"At the start of this campaign, I was thinking it was going to be the toughest (Wales) back-row selection we have been involved with, and it has justified that.
"You really do know that if you fall below that 90 per cent level of your ability, then you will probably go down to the bench or not be selected at all. It is great that we have that competition.
"I thought if I was not captain I would have more hunger to want to play and start for Wales and almost prove it to myself again.
"I felt I had to prove myself in the first two weeks (of the Six Nations). I wanted to set myself a challenge and justify my place in the starting team without having the armband.
"I want to be in the starting XV because I am one of the best players, and that is what I want to prove to myself.
"I have enjoyed playing the last couple of weeks, and they have been better performances than 2016. From that point of view, it was definitely the right decision.
"Sometimes in hindsight you look back on these things and wonder if the right decision was made, but I definitely think it was.
"I have still got to try and back it up again this weekend. and make sure I do that for the whole of the campaign. Two games is not going to be good enough for me."
Warburton, the 2013 British and Lions captain in Australia, is a strong contender for this summer's New Zealand tour, but he believes that back-row competition for places is "nuts," such is the depth of talent available to Lions head coach Warren Gatland.
But if the Cardiff Blues flanker continues in his current rich vein of form, then he is likely to present an irresistible case.
"Scotland's back-row has been performing extremely well at the breakdowns and forcing a lot of turnovers," he said. "It has been a focal point for us this week, and we are going to have to be really good there in our attack and make sure we do not get turned over.
"We managed to do that pretty well against England, only being turned over once at the end of the game, and we want to replicate that this weekend.
"Not a lot has actually changed for me. I guess it is in your head - a perception of not being captain and the weight that it does take off your shoulders.
"It is in my head a bit when you have the captaincy. It's strange, and I don't know why.
"You see it across the board where people are not captain and perform a bit better. I do not know why it happens. It must be mental, but I think it has had a positive effect on me."