Thursday 25 December 2014

Sam Warburton: Wales have got to start delivering on the world stage

Andrew Baldock

Published 17/10/2013 | 16:14

Cardiff Blues Flanker Sam Warburton during the Heineken Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter
Cardiff Blues Flanker Sam Warburton during the Heineken Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter

Sam Warburton admits there is a feeling of "work undone" until Wales can start delivering knockout punches to rugby union's southern hemisphere heavyweights.

Wales are three weeks away from launching another autumn campaign, with South Africa and Australia among those on their November agenda.

Since head coach Warren Gatland took charge in early 2008, Wales' success has been well-chronicled - three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final appearance.

Their record under him against New Zealand, the Springboks and Wallabies, though, makes for sobering reading, with just one win - against Australia in 2008 - and 20 defeats.

Six of those losses were by a margin of three points or less, notably some agonising recent failures against Australia.

But while Warburton has twice been on a winning team at one of the "big three's" expense, both times he was wearing a British and Irish Lions shirt in Australia this summer, rather than the red of Wales.

"Until you achieve against southern hemisphere sides, it will always feel like there is work undone," Wales skipper Warburton said.

"You can do well in the northern hemisphere, but to get respect from everyone in world rugby you have to beat the southern sides.

"I hope we keep getting better. By no means would anyone just want to sit back and enjoy what we have achieved. It is what we do next that is important."

Wales kick off the autumn series against South Africa - a country they last beat 14 years ago - on November 9, and Warburton added: "It is a massive game to start with, especially with South Africa playing so well in the Rugby Championship and having been together for a few months.

"The past few seasons we've started a bit slowly in campaigns, like in the autumn and the recent Six Nations, so I think we have to try to replicate that intensity in training so we don't get caught cold in the first match."

The Lions tour Down Under earlier this year ended with 10 Wales players starting the third Test in Sydney, when a 41-16 victory secured a first Test series triumph since 1997.

Warburton missed the third Test because of a torn hamstring suffered in Melbourne a week earlier, but he has no doubt the Wales players involved in that memorable day will benefit from their experiences.

"I think it will have a positive effect," he said. "Hopefully, we can replicate it in a Wales jersey.

"It happened for the Lions, but I don't think the players would rest on that. They want it to happen in a Wales jersey, and they know it would mean a lot to all the supporters.

"Every autumn, everyone is really optimistic that we can get a (southern hemisphere) scalp, and hopefully this year we can.

"Perhaps winning with the Lions is the edge we need. You have good memories from your last performance, so the Lions can only have a positive effect.

"As players, every tournament you go into there is always that expectation to do well, and it will be no different this autumn. The players are quite used to that feeling.

"It has always been close, we have never been a million miles away. I always believe that every game we go into we can win."

Warburton was speaking at the Millennium Stadium launch of Wales' new Under Armour kit that they will wear for the next two seasons.

For the first time, it will be all red - shirt, shorts and socks - and is to be worn when South Africa arrive in Cardiff.

Press Association

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