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Warburton Set To Play Again

17th May 2010

Sam Warburton has been named in the Wales squad to face South Africa in the Principality Building Society Summer Test at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 5th June (kick off 2.30pm).

Sam Warburton has been named in the Wales squad to face South Africa in the Principality Building Society Summer Test at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 5th June (kick off 2.30pm).

It's easy to forget Warburton - often described as the 'apprentice' to Cardiff Blues back row 'master' Martyn Williams - is Wales' incumbent openside flanker.

And, after an impressive showing in the 33-10 RBS 6 Nations climax victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium last time out, he will be looking to pick up where he left off on Welsh rugby's hallowed turf against the Springboks 

But first, he knows he has to nail down that starting spot in the back row by impressing the coaches in Warren Gatland's notoriously gruelling training sessions in the build up to the game.

"People seem to have an idea that there is a lack of strength in depth in Welsh rugby, but if you look around the regions there is a lot of back-rowers to pick from to be honest , and it's still a tough job getting picked for international squads in the first place," said Warburton.

"If you look at the open-sides, there's Martyn, Robin Sowden-Taylor and myself at the Blues, Ben Lewis at the Ospreys, Richie Pugh and Jonathan Edwards at the Scarlets and Gavin Thomas at the Dragons.

"I know a lot of those players don't get as much game-time as they would like, but it's still a lot to pick from.

"I was really happy with my performance against Italy. Everything went my way - the weather was good which meant the game was more open and that suits my game. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I really played myself into the ground."

Warburton, as well as being the incumbent, will be most people's favourite to start at openside flanker against the Springboks before embarking on a two-Test tour of New Zealand next month. The Blues openside is very much looking forward to the challenges ahead - not just the three tests in June, but in the year long build up to the Rugby World Cup.

"New Zealand has always been somewhere I have wanted to go and play rugby," he said.

"It will be a good experience and something new for me. One of the good things is that it will familiarise the squad with the area ahead of the World Cup

"And as Warren has said, the only way to prepare for a World Cup in New Zealand is to go there and play New Zealand.

"We will be aiming high, but even if we don't get the results this time we will be able to take something from it and build for the year after."

Warburton is also relishing the prospect of facing the best opposition the Southern Hemisphere has to offer over the course of the next month.

"One of the boxes I'd love to be able to tick is playing against Richie McCaw, because when I was growing up I'd watch him on a Saturday morning playing the Super 14," he said.

"McCaw, Martyn and George Smith were the guys I was keen on watching, so it would be a challenge I'd love if I got the chance to play on the same field and definitely a memory which would stick with me forever."

But, as well as intending to take up the opportunity of stepping out of 95-cap Williams' perceived shadow on the international stage, Warburton is also hopeful the man they call 'Nugget' - who is omitted from the current squad by mutual agreement with the coaches to concentrate on pre-season training - will be fullu rested and recuperated in time for the World Cup.

For Warburton, Williams is still very much the master, but there is no envy in their relationship. He intends to learn as much as he possibly can from the Blues, Wales abd Lions stalwart.

"It's not like wwe have a rivalry. Going to the World Cup you need a squad with two quality players in each position so, if somebody goes down, you have someone with enough experience to step in," he added.

"As long as Martyn sticks around, and I can soak up the information from him and pick up some experience over the next year, it would be amazing to go to the World Cup together. To be picked alongside Martyn would be a hell of a privilege."

Priced at £25 per person or £80 for a family ( 2 adults, 2 children) tickets for the 'Principality Building Society Summer Test' - Wales v South Africa, Millennium Stadium, Saturday 5th June KO 2.30pm - can be purchased from at the WRU's Cardiff Arms Store (No 8 Westgate Street, Cardiff); via Ticketmaster (tel 08442 777888,, Ticketline (02920 230130, and via the WRU Official Website

The remaining WRU hospitality packages can be snapped up from £119 for the 'SA Gold' package and fans should act fast to secure the hottest tickets via the official website

Further hospitality information is available online for all packages including the 'Platinum Suite' at £229 and the recently launched after popular demand. 'Springbox Suite' at £139