Sam Warburton the Wales will start his first RBS 6 Nations Championship this weekend, but before taking on England, he took some time out to share his thoughts on each team he will face over the next five weeks.
Starting out with Wales: “Winning on Friday will get us of to a great start, there’s a lot of experience in the side and we have a good chance.” The player he believes will be his side’s talisman is James Hook. “He’s one of the best players I’ve played with. He gets our back line moving and he’s very creative.”
“England are the favourites and they’ll be looking for a win this weekend and a good start to the tournament like all teams. I’ve not played against them before so I can’t really speak from experience but they’ll obviously be a tough challenge,” says Warburton who will start for the first time against England on Friday. Looking at the England squad he adds: “I would have said Courtney Lawes but Ben Foden is pretty important for them. His counter-attack ability makes him a key man for England.”
Looking to Andy Robinson’s side, “Scotland had a great win over South Africa last autumn so they’ll have confidence from that game going into the tournament. They’re very competitive and we’ve got to play them away.” Having to single out a player, “Again from a back row point of view, John Barclay. He’s got hold of that number 7 shirt very tightly so he’ll be one to watch.”
Italy, will be the outsiders once again but for Warburton they’ll always hold a special place in his heart. “My first start in last years tournament came against them, and if they play like they did last year they’ll cause a few upsets. “Salvatore Perugini. He’s just world class.” Perugini is the only team member to have played in all of Italy’s Six Nations campaigns since they joined.
Ireland “had a successful year last year and there’s a lot of experience in the side. Plus they’ve played together a lot at a team so they’re close.” Sean O’Brien is the danger man in Ireland’s team according to Warburton. “He’s has been fantastic for Leinster and as a back row player I watch him carefully. He can be a surprise package for Ireland.”
And looking to last years winners, “France are usually unpredictable, so it’s hard to say but they usually have their home games in the bag, it just depends how they get on away. “The young centre from Perpignan,” Maxime Mermoz who replaces Yannick Jauzion, “is playing really well and is one to watch.”
Sam Warburton and the WRU were supporting the RBS 6 Nations Express a special train that has been chartered by RBS, Six Nations Rugby, the RFU and WRU to help fans to and from the opening fixture of this year’s Championship. To book your return ticket for £45 visit: www.seetickets.com/tour/RBS-6-Nations-Express