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Warburton so happy in role as unknown threat

Charging through … Wales's Sam Warburton takes on Namibia at last year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Charging through … Wales's Sam Warburton takes on Namibia at last year's World Cup in New Zealand. Photo: Andy Jackson

SAM WARBURTON is delighting in the fact he can wander around Brisbane this week without anyone pestering him about rugby. As long as he does not wear the Welsh garb, he has generally been left alone.

That is in contrast to what occurs at home in Cardiff, where as Wales captain he has found himself elevated to star status, especially after captaining his nation to an emphatic Six Nations triumph, and also being the country's favourite sob story after his controversial sending off during last year's World Cup.

All of Wales still wonders what if Warburton had not received a red card for a dangerous tackle on French winger Vincent Clerc in the semi-final, especially as his team were in control. With their high-quality No.7 gone, and Wales down one man for the final hour, they fell to the French 9-8. Thus ended their World Cup pursuit.

So it is no surprise that whenever Warburton shows his face in Wales - a country as obsessed as New Zealand about rugby - he is soon surrounded by well-wishers and questioners.

''It is completely different to a year or two ago,'' Warburton said yesterday. ''I remember getting such a big thrill when someone recognised me after my fifth cap against Samoa back in 2010. I was with my girlfriend and I had my chest held out as we walked around town.

''Now I try to avoid town. I go shopping on a Sunday afternoon just before the shops close. I do my food shopping at 9pm, when it closes at 10pm, so that I have a bit more peace. I love the support from the Welsh people, but the last 12 months has been an eye opener really. When you're part of a successful Welsh team, everyone wants a piece of you.

''I'm not one for the attention, but I've always wanted to be where I am now - Welsh captain. It is something I've wanted since I've been a kid. I'd imagine footballers in England in the premiership must have it ten times worse.

''But as my dad always said, 'No one will want to know you in 10 years, so make the most of it'.''

He is certainly making the most of it, but knows his popularity back home will drop if he is unable to lead Wales to a series victory over Australia, or is dominated by his opposing captain, David Pocock, in a compelling battle of the No.7s over the next three internationals. Warburton is as intrigued by the duel as anyone, because it is not something he is accustomed to.

''David deserves all the accolades he gets,'' Warburton said. ''There are some guys in the southern hemisphere who are small and squat, but he is definitely the most efficient one when it comes to the breakdown area. [Springbok Heinrich] Brussow has a similar style, but there is not too many players in the northern hemisphere of a similar mould. They tend to be taller, used as lineout options, or prefer ball carriers to fetchers.

''That's why it's nice to play in the southern hemisphere because you play against different style No.7s. I would say they are probably more difficult to play against, because they are more specialists in that position. That is better for the game, rather than having two blind-side flankers, which is what a lot of teams play in the north. Yes, I do admire the style they play down here.''

Trying to dominate Pocock will involve quiet efficiency. He has watched the tapes, worked on his game plan. But he is not going to tell the world. Warburton is not one for chest-beating statements. He just does his job. He approaches captaincy the same way.

''When you're skipper, players respect performances,'' he said. ''There's a lot of people who talk too much and say things on a Monday, Tuesday of a Test week which players have forgotten by the time they run out on the pitch. Not me. I've always been a believer that action speaks louder than words.''

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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