Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales feeling confident – Warburton

Wales captain Sam Warburton says recent defeats by France mean nothing ahead of Saturday's semi-final

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Rugby World Cup - Semi-final, 15 October 2011, Eden Park

Skipper Sam Warburton insists past results between Wales and France will have no bearing on the outcome of Saturday’s crunch World Cup semi-final.

Warburton, 23, says Wales are feeling confident after last weekend’s impressive 22-10 victory over Ireland in the quarter-finals and is convinced his team will not be overwhelmed by the prospect of reaching the country’s first World Cup final.

“I’ve been involved in a squad to face France twice now and both times we lost,” he said. “It’s a World Cup and like the results have shown so far, I think anything can happen and that’s why this game’s wide open.

“I don’t think history counts for anything when it gets to a semi-final stage of a World Cup. To us it’s just Wales v France – it’s not a World Cup semi-final. That’s how we are going to approach it mentally.

“Everyone’s buzzing with confidence after last week’s performance. We’re looking forward to the game.”

Meanwhile, Warburton feels comfortable holding the captaincy after having initial reservations about taking over the role in August.

The flanker has revealed that the backing of his squad has helped him cope with the extra responsibility, adding the experienced members of the Wales party have provided invaluable support.

“It was something I was concerned with at the start,” he admitted. “When I was asked to do against the Baa-Baas [in June], I couldn’t turn it down because I thought it would be a one-off opportunity.

“Later on there was actually a real good chance that I could be captain for the World Cup. I did have a chat with Warren [Gatland] about it and Andy McCann the psychologist, who I’m pretty close with.

“I said to them my concerns and things I wasn’t comfortable doing, small things like having a room on your own.

“They talked me around and after doing it a few times I’ve found it so much easier now.

“Since I’ve been here it’s been pretty easy and all the players have backed me and supported me and it’s been an easy transition to be honest.”

He added: “There is still a lot of guys there who have got plenty of international experience which is why it’s not too daunting.

“They’ve won Grand Slams, they’ve played in Heineken Cups and a lot of boys have experienced a high level of rugby already.

“As a captain, guys like Ryan Jones and other senior players do help out and it makes my job a hell of a lot easier.”

Wales: Halfpenny ; North, Jonathan, Roberts, Shane Williams; Hook, Phillips; Jenkins, Bennett, Adam Jones, Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Lydiate, Warburton (capt), Faletau.

Replacements: Burns, James, Bradley Davies, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams.

France: Medard; Clerc, Rougerie, Mermoz, Palisson; Parra, Yachvili; Poux, Servat, Mas, Pape, Nallet, Dusautoir (capt), Bonnaire, Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Szarzewski, Barcella, Pierre, Ouedraogo, Trinh-Duc, Doussain, Heymans.


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