Warburton eager for Wales to ‘go one better’

Wales captain Sam Warburton says that he wants Wales to improve on his country’s
performance from 2011 even though they are in the so-called ‘group of death’.

Wales were eliminated in the 2011 Rugby World Cup by France after Warburton
was red-carded for a dangerous tackle and earlier in the match they lost Adam
Jones to the sin bin.

After being forced to play for the whole of the second half with a man less
Wales eventually fell 9-8 to France but many feel that they could have reached
the final if not for the controversial red card.

Now they find themselves in a pool featuring World Cup hosts England and two-time
champions Australia — a team that have won their last 10 Tests against Wales.

At least one of the three major nations will miss out on a quarter-final spot,
with Fiji — who knocked Wales out of the 2007 World Cup — also in the same
group.

Only the top two teams from each of the four pools will qualify for the last
eight.

“We definitely want to go one step further,” back-row forward Warburton
said Wednesday.

“All the players get asked questions about the last World Cup, and it’s
always the ‘what if’ question.

“No one really knows what would have happened. It’s impossible to say.

“With Adam Jones going off pretty early — he was arguably the number
one tighthead in the world at that time, and the scrum is so important against
France — that was probably as much a killer blow as my red card, really,”
Warburton added.

“It is impossible to answer what would have happened, but the spine of
the team this time is pretty similar, with everyone probably 30 or 40 caps better
off.

“The leadership group we’ve got in the squad as a whole is so much better
than it was four years ago, which makes my job a lot easier as well.

“In a World Cup, you have got to string six or seven games together to
be able to make sure you can win it. It’s about that consistency of performance
week in, week out.”

Meanwhile the 26-year-old paid tribute to Wales coach Warren Gatland for giving
him an early introduction to Test rugby in 2009, which in turn led to the Cardiff
Blues flanker captaiing both Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

“I doubt I would be in the position I would be in if it wasn’t for Warren,”
said Warburton of the New Zealander.

“Another coach probably wouldn’t have put his faith in a 22-year-old kid
who only had 14 or 15 caps when he picked me as captain (in 2011). He stuck
by me.

“I do feel that I am a slightly different player when I am playing under
Warren for Wales. He gives me a heck of a lot of confidence, and I think that
brings out some of my better rugby.

“Some of the best games I’ve played have been under Warren’s guidance.
A lot of the things I have achieved in my career, a massive part of that is
due to Warren.”

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