Sunday 24 September 2017

Warburton rejects Howley claims he's 'disappointed' over captaincy

Graham Clutton

Sam Warburton has brushed off claims from Wales interim coach Rob Howley that he is disappointed not to have been named as captain for Saturday's Six Nations game against Scotland.

Warburton is one of three players who come into the Wales team for the penultimate match of the campaign. However, the Cardiff Blues openside, who began the season as captain against Ireland, will not lead the side again this season.

Ryan Jones, who led Wales to victory in Paris and Rome, retains the armband for the game at Murrayfield and, barring injury or a chronic loss of form this weekend, will assume the same role against England at the Millennium Stadium in 10 days' time.

Howley said that Warburton was "disappointed" with the decision, but the player himself had no doubt that his coach had made the right choice.

"He (Jones) has done a great job and is the best captain I have played under," said Warburton. "I have no qualms with him leading the side.

"I am just delighted to be starting. Ryan has done a great job over the last few weeks and I don't see any need to change it. My focus is making sure I do myself justice and play well.

"In a way, I suppose not being captain makes it a bit easier to approach the game. I can just fully focus on the game and what I have to do preparation-wise to enable me to play the best I can. It is almost like winning my first cap again, because of the need to impress. That feeling is really good."

Alun Wyn Jones and Paul James are the other new faces in a side chasing a third successive victory.

Jones, who missed the games against Ireland and France with a shoulder problem, but came on as a replacement in Italy, partners Ian Evans in the second-row, while James comes in at loosehead prop for the injured Gethin Jenkins.

Meanwhile, Glasgow fly-half Ruaridh Jackson has been demoted to the bench despite guiding Scotland to back-to-back Six Nations wins for the first time in 12 years. His place in the starting line-up is handed to his Glasgow clubmate Duncan Weir.

Euan Murray comes back into the side at tighthead prop, while Glasgow back-row Ryan Wilson is set to win his first cap after being named on the bench. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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