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Warburton inspired by in-form Bale

Wales flanker Sam Warburton hopes to take a leaf out of football star Gareth Bale's book when he lines up against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Warburton, preferred to 95 times-capped openside Martyn Williams for the Wallabies clash, is thrilled by Bale's exploits with Tottenham. The pair attended Whitchurch High School in Cardiff for five years together, and played in the same football team.

"To see Gareth doing so well is fantastic - he is playing out of his skin and I am really pleased for him," said 22-year-old Cardiff Blues forward Warburton. "I grew up with him for about four or five years, so it's great to see he is achieving so much. It does give me a lot of confidence seeing him on the world stage playing really well."

He added: "We were in the same group of mates and I was in quite a few classes with him, so I used to come across him a fair bit."

Reflecting on his time in the school football team, he added: "I was the centre-back - the rock in defence, I called myself - while he played left midfield.

"I wasn't too bad at football, but I wasn't a fraction of the player he was. He was always a great talent, so it doesn't surprise me he is achieving what he is at the moment.

"I was okay at football, but I don't think I would ever have made a living out of it. I was a good school player and I did have Cardiff City trials when I was 14.

"But I think that made me realise how far off I was, because the boys there were much better than I was. That sort of made me realise rugby was my best chance. There was no chance of me being another Gareth Bale. He's in a league of his own."

Injury-hit Wales - they are without Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies and Ryan Jones on Saturday - face a huge task against an Australian side unchanged following last Saturday's stunning 26-24 success against New Zealand in Hong Kong.

Wales coach Warren Gatland, as expected, has moved star centre James Hook to full-back instead of Byrne, while experienced Blues centre Tom Shanklin partners Andrew Bishop in midfield and Dragons wing Will Harries taking over from Halfpenny.

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