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McBryde optimistic over Warburton

Robin McBryde has claimed it is "looking favourable" that Wales captain Sam Warburton will be fit to lead his country in the RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam showdown against France.

Warburton was due to undergo what Wales forwards coach McBryde described as a "rigorous fitness test" on Monday after missing the 24-3 victory over Italy because of a knee injury.

"Sam will be undergoing a rigorous fitness test, and we hope he comes through it and takes a full part in the remaining sessions this week," McBryde said. "We will then have a better understanding of where he is at. He has stood up well in every fitness test he has done."

He added: "Things are looking favourable, but we know we have a good player in Justin Tipuric, who acquitted himself well at the weekend. It is not quite panic stations."

McBryde reported a clean bill of health among the players after the Italy success left Wales one win away from sealing their second Six Nations crown and Grand Slam of coach Warren Gatland's four-year reign.

Warburton for Tipuric is likely to be the only change when Gatland announces his team on Thursday, assuming the inspirational Cardiff Blues flanker proves his fitness.

France will arrive in Cardiff on the back of a 24-22 home defeat against resurgent England, a result that ended their Six Nations title hopes.

But they have won five times and lost once on their previous Millennium Stadium visits in the Six Nations, which is a record the Wales camp will not overlook.

"France will rue missed chances and wrong options, but if they gel they will be a stern challenge," McBryde said. "You cannot take anything for granted when you play France.

"For us, how you finish a championship is as important as how you start it. The expectation to deliver a strong performance will be high, and the players will be keen to give a good account of themselves."


From Belfast Telegraph