Sam Warburton: No psychological barrier to Australia defeats
Wales captain insists there are no problems with belief as southern hemisphere teams queue up to play in Cardiff this month
Sam Warburton insists there is no lack of belief among the Wales squad as they prepare to face Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa this month.
The 26-year-old Wales captain is determined that demons can be banished as they face Rugby World Cup rivals Australia in Cardiff on Saturday, the team they have lost to in their last nine meetings.
We really do have to get a win over one of these teams if we are to be considered one of the best in the world
“You are not unlucky nine times in a row,” Warburton said.
“Australia have obviously been that smidgen better than we have been in the last nine games, but this month is a massive opportunity for us.
“It’s not a psychological barrier when it comes to playing Australia. The first time I came into the squad was on the back of beating them in 2008, so you always have the belief when playing these teams.”
It has been six long years of hurt since Shane Williams and Lee Byrne were the try-scorers as Wales survived a late onslaught to defeat the Wallabies 21-18 at the Millennium Stadium, the venue for this week’s Dove Men Series clash.
Over at their Vale of Glamorgan base, head coach Warren Gatland has been in no mood to go easy on his squad despite a busy start to the season.
There have been no half measures as Gatland looks to get his players into shape to produce a much-needed win over the big three ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup when Wales are set to take on England, Australia and Fiji in the pool.
With early morning starts, some of the sessions have seen the players training until 18:00, in some instances almost 12 hours a day.
“It is our first match of the season and training has been all about making sure that we are full of running in the first game and not undercooked,” Warburton added.
“We have spent the last week replicating the pace the game on Saturday will be played at and it has been the hardest I have experienced.
“The preparation has been different to the last few autumns and, if we start well, it will be all credit to the management.”
Warburton also believes that the time has come for Wales to stand up and be counted as one of the world’s best rugby nations.
“It is coming to the time, which we have said year after year, with the World Cup on the horizon and the senior players in the group, that we really do have to get a win over one of these teams if we are to be considered one of the best in the world.” Warburton said.
“That’s why I respect the England team of 2003. When they had their autumn series they turned over all three of them and sent a real message to world rugby. That’s what we have got to aspire to.”