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Thursday 26 April 2018

Warburton savours captaincy

SAM WARBURTON will reclaim the Wales captaincy against South Africa tomorrow and admits: "I wanted it back big time."

The skipper of the victorious British and Irish Lions in Australia earlier this year has not started a Test match as Wales leader since early February.

Injured against opening Six Nations Championship opponents Ireland, Warburton saw Ryan Jones take over, then after Jones subsequently suffered an injury, prop Gethin Jenkins captained Wales in their title-clinching record victory over England.

"I think people know about what I was going through in the last Six Nations," said flanker Warburton, who will take charge of Wales for the 21st time this weekend.

"I was having a bit of a dip in confidence, but after the back-end of the Six Nations, the summer and the start of this season I am getting to the stage now where I feel I am the right person to do it (captaincy), and I really want to do it.

"I've done it 20 times for Wales and I really feel comfortable with it now, especially with the guys we've got. I wanted it back big time.

"It makes it so much easier knowing that we have 22 other guys in the squad. In the week now, guys like Alun-Wyn Jones and Adam Jones, they're invaluable and will have as much influence, if not more, than myself in a training week.

"Those guys are really important for us. When we do a lineout and scrummage session, Alun-Wyn will pretty much take everything, very hands-on and making a lot of the decisions, which takes a lot of the weight off my shoulders.

"Having these guys around makes my job really easy."

Meanwhile, Ospreys winger Eli Walker has been ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury in training yesterday morning. The 21-year-old will be replaced by Liam Williams.

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