Warburton: Tackle was not malicious
Sam Warburton insisted there was no malicious intent in the tackle on Vincent Clerc which saw him sent off in Wales' 9-8 World Cup semi-final defeat to France.
The Wales captain was given his marching orders just 18 minutes into the game at Eden Park for a dangerous lifting tackle on the France wing.
"I am gutted with the red card but there was nothing malicious, no malicious intent," said Warburton, who has been one of the stars of the World Cup.
"I felt as soon as I hit him his bodyweight took control of what happened. I went to compete for the ball after, thinking it was a normal tackle, and the next thing I know I was walking off into the stands.
"All the boys are gutted. The courage and bravery the boys showed was second to none."
Warburton's leadership has been a key factor in Wales' World Cup run and he addressed the squad in the changing room after the game.
"Sam spoke very well in the dressing room. The quality of the guy is immense," said fly-half Stephen Jones.
Wales coach Warren Gatland accused the French players of showmanship and suggested that may have played a part in referee Alain Rolland's quick decision.
But Clerc felt immediately that Warburton's tackle was worthy of a red card, saying: "I was tackled at the same time I received the ball. I felt him immediately lift me up and when I fall down on the floor I thought he was going to get at least a yellow card for this tackle.
"He put my feet up to my head and we have seen since the beginning of the competition, every time it has been penalised with a red card or yellow card. Regarding whether it is a fair sentence, I would say yes."