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Warburton: Lions glory not a factor


Scott Williams is a key man for Wales.

Scott Williams is a key man for Wales.

Scott Williams is a key man for Wales.

Victorious British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton believes this summer's triumphant Australia tour will not be relevant when Wales attempt to topple the Wallabies on Saturday.

The Lions' 2-1 Test series success was their first for 16 years, with 11 of Wales' starting line-up this weekend featuring in a squad coached by Wales boss Warren Gatland.

Warburton skippered the Lions against Australia in Brisbane and Melbourne before injury struck, only for his Wales colleague Alun-Wyn Jones to take up the leadership baton and oversee a stunning 41-16 series decider demolition job.

Wales, though, have found it a much tougher business beating the Wallabies, losing eight Tests in a row against opponents who will be a 2015 World Cup pool rival.

"The Lions hasn't been spoken about once. I haven't been thinking about it," Warburton said, ahead of another clash with familiar foes.

"There might be nine or 10 of us who played against them, but there are still another 13 guys in the (match-day) squad on Saturday and management who haven't achieved a win against Australia.

"For me, the Lions has no bearing on the match on Saturday. It is for Wales, and the Welsh fans will want to see it as well as the players.

"The players are very confident, and if we can finish this series with three wins out of four then it would be a success compared to last year."

Wales' record against all three southern hemisphere heavyweights - Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - is a miserable one, and in stark contrast to their Six Nations form under Gatland that has realised three titles and two Grand Slams during the past six seasons.

"I have always thought that Wales can't be called (World Cup) contenders, really, until we beat the southern hemisphere sides," Warburton added.

"It is obviously a big hurdle for Wales, and we have got to desperately try to achieve that this weekend. It would be massive to get a win.

"If we could finish with a win, so it's three out of four in the autumn, following a successful Six Nations and the contingent who were involved with the Lions, it would probably be one of the most successful years Wales will have had in a while. That is a big motivating factor for me."

Australia, despite losing their opening November tour game against England, recovered quickly to beat Italy, Ireland and Scotland, suggesting that new coach Ewen McKenzie is making a mark following some difficult times immediately after the Lions tour.

The Wallabies pack has proved a particularly impressive unit, especially during a 32-15 stroll past Ireland, putting Warburton and his fellow Wales forwards on red alert.

"It might look from when you watch television that it is easier up front against Australia, but it doesn't feel like that as a player," he said.

"They are very good at the breakdown, and I have always found it a very physical, tough battle up front and I would expect the same on Saturday. I thought they were great against Ireland, it was a good scoreboard for them.

"Playing against Australia they are some of the most difficult games because the ball is in play quite a while, and you can have periods when you end up defending quite a lot.

"They are tough matches to play in, but they have always been exciting matches. They always seem to be entertaining games."

The pressure will be on Warburton and company to deliver this weekend, although in terms of World Cup psychology there is still a considerable amount of rugby to be played before their 2015 Twickenham meeting.

"There is still another campaign next autumn, so it is not like now or never, it's not like someone is holding a gun to your head and you have to win this weekend," Warburton said.

"But sooner, rather than later would obviously be nicer because it gives you momentum going into the Six Nations.

"It's not just about the World Cup, you want momentum going into the Six Nations next year.

"Something that has always annoyed me from people is when they go into a game and think 'It's okay, we are the underdogs'. For me, that is a load of rubbish, and you have to approach every game with that mindset.

"It doesn't just happen with a click of the fingers with a group of players. You get confidence from good training, good results and being together as a squad.

"Australia are a quality team, one of the best teams you will come up against in your career, but we are confident we can get a win."