Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Six Nations wide open - Warburton

Wales flanker Sam Warburton has predicted a "wide open" RBS 6 Nations Championship this season.

Wales start their Six Nations season against England in Cardiff on February 4, and although try machine Shane Williams is likely to be absent because of a shoulder injury, his fellow British and Irish Lions Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny should be fit and available after missing this month's action.

"There are a lot of positives we can take from this autumn campaign and hopefully take them into a Six Nations tournament I think is wide open," Warburton said following the battling 37-25 loss to New Zealand.

"The more we play these teams, the more we will learn. They just don't miss their tackles, they are very aggressive in the contact area and their counter-attack is great.

"But we still have a lot of belief and I think we will come out of the New Zealand game with a bit of respect. At one stage I thought we could win it, but New Zealand took control and ran away with it in the last 20 minutes."

Wales trailed only 13-12 early in the second-half, but even when New Zealand substitute Daniel Braid was sin-binned they failed to capitalise, conceding a critical Hosea Gear try after full-back Lee Byrne's misdirected penalty to touch cost them dear.

"One bad kick, they score, one missed tackle, they score. You have got to play the best game you can play to beat them," Wales lock Bradley Davies said. "You think you have got them one minute, then all of a sudden someone scores in the corner. But we are getting closer.

"We've played against the top three in world rugby this autumn and pushed them all close. International rugby is all about fine margins and at the moment we are not quite there, but we are a positive bunch of players and we want to work hard.

"We knew we were going to turn up and give New Zealand a good game. It wasn't going to be 40-0 or 50-0. We believed we could win, but a couple of lapses in concentration cost us dearly.

"We didn't capitalise from 13-12 behind when they were down to 14 men. That's where the next step is for Welsh rugby, learning how to be ruthless and to score tries when you have got the chance."


From Belfast Telegraph