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Warburton fired up for European quarter-final

28th March 2017

Sam Warburton is back in Cardiff Blues colours and relishing Saturday's European Challenge Cup quarter-final with Gloucester.

The Wales flanker was given last weekend off following a hugely impressive Six Nations campaign but is back in contention to face the Cherry and Whites.

He has not played at Kingsholm previously but is fired up for the occasion and is determined to keep the Blues hopes of silverware alive.

Warburton said: “It was nice to give the body a bit of a break and now I feel refreshed and ready to go for the remainder of this season – I’m feeling good coming back into this week.

“Going into the Six Nations I started seven games on the bounce for the Blues, which was really good for me, I got some good rugby under my belt and it all worked out. Now I really want to transfer that back to the Blues and have a strong end to the season. 

“I love the fact that we have this European game now and something to play for at the end of the season. Top six was the target for us and that’s looking difficult now but we have this to play for.”

Warburton was on the bench as Dai Young’s Cardiff Blues famously toppled Toulon in the 2010 Challenge Cup final in Marseilles. 

He was breaking into the first team at that time, often playing behind regional legend Martyn Williams but has fond memories of the occasion and the famous win against Jonny Wilkinson and company.

But now as a senior player, he is desperate to add another piece of regional silverware to his collection.

Warburton continued: “I would love to get some more silverware at the Blues and this is a massive opportunity to do that. Whatever the competition, to have a quarter-final is fantastic.

“When we won this competition back in 2010 that was one of my top three, if not top club experiences. I have that medal in my little trophy cabinet and it’s one I’m really proud of.

“It was an amazing day and experience for the club so if we can win this competition it would be massive and I would get a heck of a lot of satisfaction from that.

“People ask me about career targets and one of them is to win another trophy with the Blues. I have this season and have signed a contract extension so if I could win something at my home club that would be really rewarding. 

“This is obviously a great chance to do that, all the hard work has gone in through the autumn and winter in to get us to the quarters and now is the chance you have to take.”

Warburton, like many others has had one eye on this mouth-watering encounter for a long time and through the Six Nations he roomed with Gloucester back-row Ross Moriarty.

He expects a fierce test in front of a notoriously partisan crowd at Kingsholm but that is something which will only serve to drive the 28-year-old on.

“It’s my first time playing there and I’m really looking forward to that,” Warburton added.

“I’ve seen it on the telly and spoken to the boys who have been down there and it’s a proper old school ground, a good fan-base down there.

“They will be a real test, especially on their own pitch. They would have adapted a game-plan to suit them.

“They have a good kicking game, a good pack and some really good attacking players on the outside. I look across their team and I don’t think there are any weaknesses, they are a pretty solid team. It’s going to be a massive battle.

“Me and Ross Moriarty had been talking about this game during the Six Nations and looking forward to it. It will be good to lock horns with Gloucester and it will be a step up from any league game because it’s cup rugby.”