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Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Warburton told to forget Williams

Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: 13 November Kick-off: 1930 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC TWO Wales & online, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, plus radio commentary online


Warburton steps into Williams' boots

Wales coach Warren Gatland has told open-side flanker Sam Warburton not to try to be the new Martyn Williams in Friday's Test against Samoa in Cardiff.

The Cardiff Blue, 21, is the latest man to emerge as understudy to 89-cap, three-time Lions tourist Williams, 34.

"He brings a physical element that's different," said Gatland. "We don't want him playing the way Martyn plays, we want him playing his own game."

Cardiff-man Warburton won his first cap against the USA on Wales' summer tour.

The 2007 Wales Under-19 World Cup captain has now displaced Blues team-mate Robin Sowden-Taylor as the understudy to the seemingly irreplaceable veteran Williams and is set to make his first start on Friday.

Martyn Williams and Sam Warburton
Martyn knows himself that he was a little bit off the pace against the All Blacks

Warren Gatland

"If I could end up half the player Martyn is I'd be very happy," Warburton told BBC Sport Wales. "He's blatantly the number-one seven in Wales.

"I just enjoying being there by him, learning off him, watching his games and having a few master classes at the end of training sessions.

"I wouldn't say I'm a similar player. Samoa might suit me a bit more, I do enjoy the physical game and hope to get stuck in.

"I'll be concentrating on getting to the breakdown quickly and winning ball for us."

Williams has been one of the few players in Wales who has been seen as irreplaceable in the national side.

His value was shown as Wales coach Warren Gatland coaxed him out of a premature retirement after the disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign.


The flanker is hoping to nurse himself through to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Williams has been given a break against the heavy-tackling Samoans after his exertions in the New Zealand defeat last week, just his second match after a summer shoulder operation.

"We're still looking for genuine back-up for Martyn," said Gatland.

"Martyn knows himself that he was a little bit off the pace against the All Blacks.

"He hadn't played a lot of rugby. This week is a chance for him to do a bit of extra work and some conditioning.

"Warburton's an exciting player, a very good athlete. We want him to go out there and put some pressure on Martyn in that position.

Sam Warburton
Warburton won his first cap from the bench against the USA in June

"He's a young player who has taken his opportunities well for the Blues. The Wales coaches were very impressed with him on the North American tour [when Gatland was with the Lions].

"He needs to get on the ball, get over the ball, his work-rate's got to be there and he's got to be a link between the forwards and backs."

Warburton says he is pleased that his Wales career is progressing and that he hopes to build his position in the squad.

"Getting a first starting jersey at home means more," Warburton told BBC Sport Wales.

"It was a massive achievement to play on tour, then I said that the next target was the autumn internationals.

"With the Lions back it's a stronger squad, harder to get into, and I'm really chuffed to be starting.

"I'm trying to cement my place in the squad for the future."

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see also
Wales 17-13 Samoa
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Evans issues warning to Wales
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Biggar sends 10 warning to Jones
11 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Howley backs Peel to show class
11 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Peel recalled for 70th Wales cap
10 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Stowers leads Samoa against Wales
11 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Tsunami to motivate Samoa players
10 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
McCaw hails Wales rival Williams
05 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Young sees open job for Warburton
17 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
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Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
The bone-rattlers: Samoan rugby
04 Aug 09 |  Rugby Union
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
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