Sam Warburton ready to reclaim Wales captaincy and admits 'I wanted it back big time'

The successful British and Irish Lions skipper will lead out the Welsh when they take on South Africa on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium

Sam Warburton will reclaim the Wales captaincy against South Africa on Saturday, and he has admitted: “I wanted it back big time”.

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

Injured against opening RBS 6 Nations Championship opponents Ireland, Warburton saw Ryan Jones take over, then when Jones subsequently suffered an injury, prop Gethin Jenkins captained Wales in their title-clinching record victory over England.

Although Warburton regained full fitness and played again during last season's Six Nations, making two further starts and one appearance off the bench, his focus was on consistency of performance rather than leadership duty.

"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."

Lock Bradley Davies, meanwhile, has no doubt that Wales' preparations have been spot-on for their latest attempt to floor a southern hemisphere heavyweight.

Warburton and Wales' coaching team have this week underlined the crucial importance of beginning to take major foreign scalps, something that has eluded them since 1999 (South Africa), 1953 (New Zealand) and 2008 (Australia).

Wales now have a first tilt at the Springboks since suffering an agonising 17-16 defeat against them in the World Cup pool phase two years ago, and 40 times-capped Davies is relishing the prospect.

"South Africa are going to challenge us front-on with their style of play," Davies said.

"We prepared for it in training last week. Training was physical, and hopefully we can transfer it to Saturday's game.

"Personally, I have kind of been building momentum and I feel I am back to where I know I can and want to be. I feel I am ready to run through brick walls, which is normally a good sign."

PA

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