Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Warburton focused on Italian job

Sam Warburton wants Wales to be "ruthless" against Italy next Saturday and send their RBS 6 Nations title rivals France a clear message in the process.

The overwhelming majority of Welsh rugby supporters already have one eye on a potential title and Grand Slam decider when Les Bleus arrive in Cardiff later this month. But skipper Warburton will also press home the point in training this week that Wales can make a real statement of intent by hitting top form and emphatically putting Italy away.

"It is about being ruthless next weekend. It's a great opportunity to send a message out to France that we are not messing around," said Warburton.

"A good impressive win over the Italians and trying to get some negative thoughts in their (France's) mind coming to Cardiff means a ruthless performance against the Italians would be good."

If they brush off Italy and then beat France, the second Six Nations title and Grand Slam of coach Warren Gatland's four-year reign will be secured, arriving just five months after Wales reached the World Cup semi-finals.

Warburton, though, is cautious about being swept along on a tide of expectancy and he added: "I can understand how people are getting ahead of themselves. But from a player's point of view it is always a really tough game against Italy, and the players know that, which is why we are really going to knuckle down at training.

"I have stopped myself from saying it (Grand Slam). I am not superstitious, but I can say hand on heart that no one has spoken about the French game once. It is just being professional. At the moment, it is about getting your body right for next weekend, topping up some fitness, doing some skill work and then focusing on Italy.

"We can't afford to think of anything else, really, and the players won't be looking any further ahead than Italy. First things first. When I have played against Italy, even though it might look comfortable from a spectator's point of view, you still have to work really hard on the pitch.

"You really have to try to break them down. If you go out a bit complacent and they get their tails up - they beat France last season, remember - they have that performance in them. Things, at the moment, seem to be going our way.

"We got the ball rolling with that win out in Ireland, and every week we come in and everyone is positive and confident, which makes a massive difference to when you are training. If anything, you train even harder because you want to succeed even more."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph