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Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wales' Sam Warburton inspired by school pal Gareth Bale

Wales v Australia
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 6 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO & online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru and live text commentary and live scores on BBC Sport website


Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale
Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale both attended Whitchurch High

Sam Warburton will be inspired by old school-mate Gareth Bale when the Wales flanker aims to stop Australia danger man David Pocock on Saturday.

Pocock inspired the Wallabies to a win against New Zealand on Saturday and now Australia play Wales in their autumn Test opener at the Millennium Stadium.

Warburton now hopes to inspire Wales to glory and upstage pal Bale after his Euro heroics for Tottenham Hotspur.

"He has set a very high standard but I want to steal his limelight," he joked.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has chosen 22-year-old Warburton ahead of veteran open-side Martyn Williams, Wales' most-capped forward, in a new-look back-row that could be seen as a changing of the back-row guard.

The Cardiff Blues youngster is named alongside fellow international rookie Dan Lydiate, the Dragons blind-side flanker, and number eight Jonathan Thomas, who replaces the injured Ryan Jones.

Now Warburton hopes to star against the impressive Aussies in Cardiff as he wants to keep ahead of 95-times capped star Martyn Williams in the Wales pecking order all the way until next year's Rugby World Cup.

And the former Wales under-20 captain will take inspiration from his old Whitchurch High School friend Bale when he goes toe-to-toe with rival flanker Pocock, one of world rugby's form players.

Cardiff-born Bale is still earning universal plaudits for his stunning display in Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League Group A 3-1 win over reigning European champions Inter Milan on Tuesday.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale signed for Spurs in 2007 for a fee that could rise to 10m

The 21-year-old Welsh left-winger gave Inter star Maicon, widely-acknowledged as the world's best right-back, a torrid time in Europe for the second week running.

Bale created two goals in a scintillating display for Spurs at White Hart Lane, just a week after scoring a hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat in Milan.

Warburton has watched with interest his old friend become a worldwide star as speculation mounts that some of the best clubs in the world are considering £50m bids for Bale.

"It is unbelievable," said Warburton, who is coincidentally a Spurs fan.

"I always knew he was a good player footballer when I played with him at school, no-one ever touched him - he was head and shoulders above everyone else and it was obvious he was going to make it.

"He was always good at the sprints and long-distance running so he had all the attributes to get to the top.

"It gives me great confidence to see him doing well, another Whitchurch boy on the world scene taking them all on."

Warburton will certainly announce himself on the world stage in similar fashion to Bale if the Cardiff boy can put the reins on Aussie star man Pocock at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The clash of the magnificent number sevens will be a key sub-plot to Saturday's international as 22-year-old Pocock has provided the Aussies with a forward platform for their talented backs to play.

"Pocock is a great player and is one of their key men," said Warburton.

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton will win his eighth Wales cap against Australia

"He is obviously a player to watch. I am going to have to try to make him be as least effective as possible but I don't think you can to stop him altogether as he is so effective.

"And when he is around the contact area, we all, as a team, must get rid of him as he is such a danger."

Warburton is the youngest player in a youthful Wales team that includes just three starters over the age of 30 - and joins 23-year-old Dragon Dan Lydiate in the back-row.

"It is an opportunity for a kind of changing the guard," said Warburton.

"We're not too young to play international rugby. We're men now. Dan has had three seasons at the Dragons and I'm in my third season at the Blues.

"So while on an international scale we're not that experienced, in general we're not as rookie as some people may think."


Wales team to face Australia in Cardiff on Saturday, November 6:
James Hook; Will Harries, Tom Shanklin, Andrew Bishop, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (c), Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Jonathan Thomas.
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Paul James, Deiniol Jones, Martyn Williams, Richie Rees, Dan Biggar, Chris Czekaj.



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see also
Wales select Warburton at flanker
04 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Jones ready for in-form Wallabies
04 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Bale to see out contract at Spurs
03 Nov 10 |  Europe
England 'jealous' Bale is Welsh
03 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Redknapp salutes 'amazing' Bale
02 Nov 10 |  Europe
Tottenham 3-1 Inter Milan
02 Nov 10 |  Europe
Gatland warning on Pocock threat
03 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales vow to play Australia style
02 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Australia 26-24 New Zealand
30 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 'should lower expectations'
01 Nov 10 |  Welsh


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