Sam Warburton driven by desire to retain jersey, not claim back captaincy
4:00am Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Latest Rugby
Sam Warburton has insisted that regaining the Wales captaincy will not be a personal motivating factor when he lines up against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
For the first time in almost two years, Warburton will start a Six Nations match and not be Wales skipper.
That duty remains with his back-row colleague Ryan Jones – as it will for next week’s England clash, barring injury or loss of form – after he helped orchestrate back-to-back away victories over France and Italy.
Wales boss Rob Howley admitted that Warburton, who is seven years Jones’ junior and has won exactly half his 72 caps, was left “disappointed” by the decision.
But Wales’ 2011 World Cup captain, who led them to Six Nations title glory and a Grand Slam last season, has dismissed any notion of it affecting him.
“My focus right now is making sure I do myself justice and play well at the weekend,” he said after regaining the number seven shirt from Justin Tipuric.
“Getting the captaincy back won’t be a motivating factor. It will just be to play well for the side.
“Ryan has done a great job over the last two weeks and I don’t see any need to change the team dynamics.
“It has obviously worked for us over the last couple of weekends, but Rob’s said I can still have an input. It’s not just Ryan on his own – he needs other guys.
“I might look closely at the contact area and how the referee is managing that, Adam Jones the scrum and Alun Wyn (Jones) the lineout. It just makes sense to keep Ryan as captain. It’s a position that is interchangeable and there are probably six or seven guys doing some form of leadership.
“Ryan is the best captain I've played under, so I have no qualms with him leading the side. He has a wealth of experience and tactically he’s very clued-in.
“He’s been around a lot longer than a lot of the players and when it comes to tactical decisions he reads referees well, has a good relationship with a lot of them in the way he talks to them and is a very good motivator.
“It comes with experience. I learn things all the time. The more you play the more you pick up these things.”
This time last year, 24-year-old Warburton was being touted as a clear favourite to captain the 2013 British and Irish Lions in Australia, but other players – the likes of England’s Chris Robshaw and Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland – have seemingly now moved ahead.
All Warburton and Wales want, though, is for him to recapture his finest form.
“It almost feels like winning my first cap again because of the need to impress,” he added.
“I am delighted about being back playing again and I can’t wait to be back in the number seven jersey and play for Wales. You do really miss it and I have done over the last two weekends.
“I am back at that stage and it’s good because it makes you do the extras in the gym or on the pitch. You just do everything you can to get back in the team.
“You want to keep the captaincy – it’s a great honour to have – but the positive is I can help Ryan and still concentrate on myself.
“Who knows, maybe it could happen again.”