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'I've had enough, Mum' - Warburton details how he wanted to walk out on the British & Irish Lions tour

Captain Sam Warburton has revealed he tried to walk out on the Lions before the second test in Wellington two years ago, and was talked out of it by his mum.

The highly respected Welsh flanker, now retired, said he was overwhelmed by emotional and physical pain as the match in Wellington approached, the All Blacks having won the opening encounter.

Reflecting on the drawn series in his just released book Open Side, the British and Irish captain also opened up about a touching moment with his rival captain Kieran Read during one of the series flashpoints.

Continue reading below…

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And the two captains also discussed the possibility of forcing an overtime decider, book extracts in Wales Online reveal.

Warburton also names a handful of Lions players who he believes were the only ones who gave their absolute best on the six-week tour under coach Warren Gatland.

But what really stands out is Warburton’s vivid description of what it is like to be a modern player in a sport which has become a human demolition derby.

“Can’t sleep. The witching hour. The darkness comes flooding in, and it’s all I can do to stop it drowning me,” Warburton writes in Open Side, describing the days leading up to the second test.

“Everything hurts. My body, my mind, my heart. Everything. I’m a wreck.

“It’s easier to list the parts of me that aren’t in pain. My eyelashes. That’s pretty much it.

Warburton’s mind was suggesting he shouldn’t be captain or playing, that he was past it. That’s when he decided he’s leaving the tour.

“Two in the morning, and no-one to talk to,” he writes.

“I need to talk to someone. There are several people I could call, but there’s only one person I know will really understand. I dial her number.

“‘I’ve had enough, Mum.’ My throat is tight with the effort of not bursting into tears. ‘I really have. I’m just going to go.’

“‘Go where?’

“‘To the airport. Do a bunk. Leave all my kit here, get on the first plane home. I’ll be in the air before they realise I’ve gone.’

“I didn’t, of course. Can you imagine the headlines? THE RUNAWAY SKIPPER.”

Warburton says his Mum was able to convince him to see through the final two weeks of the tour where afterward he could decide what to do. A month later he announced his retirement from all forms of professional rugby at age 29 citing his health and wellbeing as a main priority.

“Unfortunately after a long period of rest and rehabilitation the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority,” Warburton said at the time.

“My body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training.”

This article first appeared on the New Zealand Herald and is republished with permission here.

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'I've had enough, Mum' - Warburton details how he wanted to walk out on the British & Irish Lions tour