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A catch-up with Sam Warburton

7th August 2017

Since returning from leading the British & Irish Lions to a drawn series with New Zealand Sam Warburton has been enjoying some well-earned time off with his family.

On Monday he called into Cardiff Arms Park to take part in an exclusive Facebook Live interview on the official Cardiff Blues page.

Here we sum up some of the best rugby questions and answers as Sam reflects on his summer exploits with the British & Irish Lions and looks ahead to the 2017-18 season with Cardiff Blues.?

Q: What have you been up to since returning from the Lions?

SW: “Since being back I’ve spent lots of time with my family. It (the Lions) was the first time I had spent any significant time away from my little girl.

“Now I’ve had a month off, today was the first day I’ve done a bit of training by myself. To start with it was hard, I had to force myself to rest but now I’ve had three, four weeks I feel I need to do something – especially when you see the guys working so hard up the Vale!”

Q: Has what you achieved with the Lions settled in yet?

“It’s been perceived as a success but when you’re that close, as players you just want to take that next step and get the win. 

“When you look back we went away to New Zealand, over three Tests and came back with a drawn series. That’s a tough thing to do but as players you always seek that win so I’m a little bit gutted we didn’t do that but also proud of what we achieved.”

Q: New Zealand was the only major rugby nation you had not previously beaten. How does it feel to finally do that?

SW: “In hindsight it feels great, but at the time it was only the second Test so I was just thinking, ‘right, we have to win the third Test now’. 

“Too many times we have been heroic losers, whether with club or country, and I just felt this was our chance to put our foot on their throats and to get the third Test win. But it wasn’t to be. 

“Now I look back, they were the only team in Test rugby I hadn’t beaten. So it’s a nice statistic to say I have beaten every country in the top rankings.”

Q: How is the body and when can Cardiff Blues expect you back?

SW: “I had played pretty much 12 months of constant rugby so physically and mentally it was tough. I was looking forward to getting away from rugby. 

“But now, I’ve been on the phone to Danny and we’ve spoken about when I come back in. I don’t want to say exactly when but I don’t think it will be too long. 

“Danny knows I will come back in pretty decent shape so hopefully it won’t take long to catch up and pull on that shirt again.”

Q: What do you make of two South African teams joining the Guinness PRO14?

SW: “It’s really exciting. It’s a move in the right direction, financially it makes sense and it’s great for the players to potentially have a mini tour in South African. I think we will improve from playing different teams and cultures.”

Q: What’s the target for Cardiff Blues this season?

SW: “It’s always the same, we want Champions Cup qualification and to be near the top of the table. 

“The motivation of the players never changes; we want to be high. A lot of it comes down to luck, last season we had a sticky spell with a lot of injuries and it hurt us but hopefully we can keep the majority of the boys fit and if we do that we should have a good 2017-18.”

Q: How beneficial is the competition for places in the back-row?

SW: “When I first came through I had a season and then Josh Navidi came through, then another couple and Ellis came through, then Thomas Young and now someone like Jim Botham. 

“They are all great athletes and are doing really well. I’ve always been on my toes in terms of seven but I’m also becoming a bit more flexible and paying six these days. 

“The nice thing is we all get on so well – add to that Josh Turnbull, Macauley Cook and Nick Williams, Sion Bennett, we have a really good back row squad. The depth we have is great and that’s what we need in as many positions as possible.”

Q: What would be your message to those considering a Season Membership?

SW: “You can’t underestimate the importance of support. I know success breeds support and the more successful you are the more support you have. 

“I remember in the early days we were averaging 10-12,000 a game throughout the season and it was a great place to play rugby. 

“You sense it from the warm-up and a big crowd really excites the lads. If you want a good home record, and that’s so important if you want to do well in this competition, then the crowd go a heck of a long way.”

Q: Would you play for another Welsh region?

SW: “Never! I have three more years at the Blues. 

“It’s nothing against any of the other regions and some players like to keep their cards close to their chest and not be so honest but I’ve made it clear from the outset - Cardiff Blues is the only team I ever want to play for. 

“My current contract takes me to 31 and I’ll then come to another crossroads in my career, I might have to, they might not want me, but personally I’d like to spend my whole career here.”

Q: So just nine more years to catch up Taufa’ao Filise?

SW: “There’s no way. I have no idea how Fa’ao has made it to be playing at 40. 

“That would mean I have another 12 pre-seasons and another 12 seasons of rugby so I’m not even half way through! 

“I don’t know how he does it, he should go down as a Cardiff Blues legend. With what he has done for the Blues, he turns up every year and is just phenomenal, he’s a great of Cardiff Blues.”

Q: What’s the one area Cardiff Blues need to improve most?

SW: “We have a good enough 23 to be very competitive, it is just consistency of performance. We had some brilliant performances last year but it is just making sure that when we play teams we should beat that we beat them and put them to the sword. 

“That comes through training, good habits and routines. We’ve been improving every year so hopefully that’s the next step for us.

“There are a couple of moments from last season that stick out for me, one being the Ospreys from Judgement Day and the first meeting after it. Danny asked, why can’t we do that every week? 

“When we have the majority of the squad fit and we’re extremely motivated we can beat anyone. We have a lot of confidence going into the season because on our day we know we can play good rugby. So it’s just consistency that’s important.”

Q: After the success of the Lions, how much do you want to win silverware with Cardiff Blues?

SW: “There’s a few things left that I want to achieve in my career and one thing would be to win something at the Blues. 

“It would be so satisfying to win something here after we have gone through some ups and downs. It would be up there with my career highlights and is definitely something I have set my sights on.”

You can join Sam Warburton at Cardiff Arms Park for the 2017-18 season. Buy your Season Membership today for as little as £200 for adults and just £20 for under-16s.