Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Warburton: We're still hungry

Sam Warburton has underlined Wales' collective depth of desire to put this season's RBS 6 Nations campaign back on track.

Wales launched the Six Nations season a fortnight ago with hopes of completing an unprecedented title hat-trick following successes in 2012 and 2013.

But a 26-3 drubbing against Ireland in Dublin last weekend - Wales' biggest Six Nations defeat for eight years - has left them playing catch-up.

Unbeaten France are their next opponents at the Millennium Stadium in seven days' time, and Wales, whose points difference is currently vastly inferior to all their title rivals, cannot afford any further mishaps.

"The players are desperate to show everyone the Wales they know," said national team captain Warburton, who will be in RaboDirect PRO12 action for Cardiff Blues on Saturday as he gains more game-time following his recovery from a shoulder injury.

"The result was a massive disappointment with a lot of uncharacteristic errors.

"From a structural point of view as forwards we have to take responsibility. We simply didn't replicate what we had done in training during the game, and that is disappointing.

"It was frustrating. We weren't urgent enough and our ball-retention wasn't good enough, but the things that went wrong can all be put right and we are working hard to do so in the build-up to France.

"Individually and collectively we are all eager to put it right. It's not like we have finished the campaign. We have a chance to put it right.

"We have won 10 out of our last 12 Six Nations games, and we need to remember that."

Refecting on the Dublin aftermath, Warburton added: "We are used to meeting up at the start of the week in a positive mood, so this week has been a little different.

"We took a day to look back and reflect. Now, the focus is on putting it right, and we have got that opportunity in front of our home crowd to put in a performance and get the result against France.

"In hindsight, it's similar to the England game last year (Wales won by a record 30-3 scoreline). What happened to us (in Dublin) is similar to what happened to them that day.

"In the match against England we were on the money and they weren't, and that was the case against Ireland. Everything went right for them."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up next Wednesday for the France clash, with most pundits predicting a move from openside to blindside flanker for Warburton and Justin Tipuric being handed the number seven shirt.

Lock Luke Charteris, provided he has overcome a hamstring injury, is expected to return after he missed the Ireland game, while Gatland appears to face a choice between James Hook, Ashley Beck and George North as shoulder injury victim Scott Williams' midfield replacement.

In the meantime, though, Warburton is just looking to putting more miles on the clock after starting just one game in 10 weeks.

"I'm looking forward to playing this weekend. It's a win-win situation," he added, ahead of an Arms Park appointment with Glasgow.

"Hopefully, I can help them pick up some points in the league, and for me I get the benefit of getting some more miles in the legs as well.

"It will be great to be back and put the blue jersey back on. I haven't played for them since October, so it's been a good few months. It will be nice to be back out there."

A number of Warburton's Wales squad colleagues are also in action this weekend, including his Blues team-mate Gethin Jenkins, Scarlets prop Samson Lee, plus Ospreys players Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb and Ryan Bevington.

France-based Hook and Mike Phillips, meanwhile, both feature in 26-man squads for Perpignan and Racing Metro, respectively, ahead of Top 14 league matches on Saturday.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph