Six Nations: Forget captaincy... I'm just happy to be back says Sam Warburton
Wales take on Scotland this weekend
Tuesday 05 March 2013
For Sam Warburton, one out of two is an ample return. The relieved former captain was restored to the Wales side for Saturday's trip to Murrayfield – a contest that must be won if they are to cling to any hope of retaining their Six Nations title – but Ryan Jones will continue to lead the side for the remainder of the Championships.
Warburton began the season as favourite to lead the Lions, but now he is grateful just to be back in the Welsh starting XV. He will collect his 37th cap against Scotland as part of a hugely experienced line-up, yet it will have the feel of his first after he missed the France game through injury and was then named on the bench against Italy.
"Getting the captaincy back won't be a motivating factor, it will just be to play well," said Warburton. "It almost feels like winning my first cap again because of the need to impress. That feeling is really good. Not knowing whether you are going to be playing each week definitely puts you on edge more."
Justin Tipuric is unfortunate to be returned to the bench, where he began the campaign against Ireland – one of three changes to the Welsh starting line-up. Paul James also replaces the injured Gethin Jenkins in the front row and Alan Wyn Jones returns for a 69th cap in the second row in place of Andrew Coombs, another marginal call by Rob Howley, the Wales interim head coach.
Tipuric's introduction against Ireland revitalised the Welsh performance and he may well have kept his place even if Warburton had not been ruled out of the France game with a shoulder problem. Warburton came off the bench to good effect in Rome but was by no means a shoo-in for Murrayfield.
"In a strange way it was nice to be on that edge when it comes to selection and not knowing what will happen," said Warburton. "That's what pushes you in training. I'm back at that stage and it's good because it makes you do the extras in the gym or on the pitch, you just do everything you can to get back in the team. When you hear your name it's obviously a relief. Rob said it was because he wanted more physicality at the breakdown, so I guess that is something I slightly edge Justin on."
Warburton described Jones, who Howley said would remain in charge against England barring injury or a meltdown in his performance, as "the best captain I've played under".
"Ryan has done a great job and I don't see any need to change the team dynamics," Warbuton said. "Rob's said I can still have an input. It's not just Ryan on his own, he needs other guys – I might look closely at the contact area and how the referee is managing that, Adam Jones [can look at] the scrum and Alun Wyn the lineout."
It means Jones, one of 11 players in Wales' line-up with more caps than their opposite number, will extend his record run to 32 games in charge. "It is something I am fiercely proud of," he said. "It is a role I enjoy.
"When a call needs to be made it will be down to me, but Sam and others will be consulted at different times. They will certainly have input, not just in game-time, but in the lead-up to this game.
"It is an opportunity for Sam to concentrate on his own game, put all the other worries and stuff to one side and just go out and be the player we know he is."
West Ham United vs Astra Giurgiu match report: Slaven Bilic sent off after Hammers throw away lead
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United? 'My next move will be a surprise' says PSG striker
Ashes 2015 live: Latest score and updates with Australia on the brink of humiliating defeat after Jimmy Anderson claims David Warner wicket
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: Steve Finn claims five wickets as England close in on beating Australia in third Test inside three days at Edgbaston
- 1 Stuart Baggs dies: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 2 As the world mourned the death of Cecil the lion, five endangered elephants were killed in Kenya
- 3 Amazon Prime - how to cancel: after Top Gear hiring, instructions on how to leave premium service
- 4 What is halal meat and why is it controversial?
- 5 Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the UK Government is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'