Sunday 20 October 2019

Spider fear kept rugby star Sam Warburton out of I’m A Celebrity jungle

The former Wales and British Lions captain said he could never be crowned King of the Jungle.

Sam Warburton (David Davies/PA)
Sam Warburton (David Davies/PA)

By Rod Minchin, PA

Rugby legend Sam Warburton has revealed he turned down the latest series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! because of a fear of spiders.

The former Wales and British Lions captain said he would never go into the reality TV jungle because of all the creepy crawlies.

Warburton, 31, may have an image of a tough rugby player on the pitch, but off it he is scared of arachnids and would never be crowned King of the Jungle.

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Warburton is a Grand Slam-winning captain of Wales (David Davies/PA)

He said he was approached by producers of the hit ITV show to take part in the 19th series, which is due to air next month.

The show sees celebrities having to survive in the Australian outback while submitting to Bushtucker challenges for food, often pitting them against spiders, rats and snakes.

The former flanker, who retired from playing last year, made the revelation while speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote his new book, Open Side.

“I’m always being asked to do TV and I’ve always turned then down as I’m not really into all of that,” Warburton said.

“I was asked to go into I’m A Celebrity this Christmas – I love that programme and it’s the one thing I watch every hour, every night.

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Warburton claimed he had been offered hypnotherapy by producers of the show (John Stilwell/PA)

“I said to them, ‘I can’t do it’.”

Warburton explained that while playing for Wales he had changed hotel rooms once because he had spotted a spider.

“I said to them that I physically can’t go on. I’d be great telly – I’m not being arrogant – because I come across as a normal guy.

“But there’s this pretty big rugby player who is terrified of spiders and would be screaming at stuff.

“And they were like, ‘That’s why you’d be so good’, and I was like, ‘Yeah for you, not for me.’

“I turned them down and they were like: ‘Please come to London and have the meeting.’

“So, I said I’d have the meeting but then two days before I got cold feet and thought I can’t do it, and if I do it, I’d have to have hypnotherapy.

“They said they do that and give contestants hypnotherapy.”

Warburton added: “I’m not doing it but I say this now… but next year you’ll all be voting for me and I’ll be looking back thinking, ‘I wish I had never mentioned it’.”

He retired aged 29 after winning 79 Test caps for Wales, holding the record for most caps as captain.

Warburton also led Wales to a Grand Slam and was captain of two British Lions tours, including a historic 1-1 series draw in New Zealand.

The married father-of-one said he did not live a “celebrity” lifestyle and enjoyed being able to take his dog out for a walk, see his friends and family and go for a curry at his local Indian restaurant.

PA Media

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