'Wales are genuinely the better team' - Warburton rubs up Aussies ahead of World Cup fixture
Sam Warburton believes Wales are a better team than Australia ahead of their crucial World Cup pool meeting in Tokyo on September 29.
The Welsh had been on a terrible losing streak against the Wallabies in recent times, losing 13 fixtures in succession since a November 2008 win in Cardiff.
However, that rotten run was finally ended last November, Wales winning 9-6 in Cardiff, and Warburton claims this psychological breakthrough will be massive heading into their next meeting in Japan.
“Wales have done a lot of things right in the past 10 years when they have played Australia,” said the former skipper who retired last year.
“They have beaten them recently in the November series in 2018, which is great from a psychological point of view because you don’t want to be doing press conferences as a player and being asked questions that you haven’t won since 2008, so that monkey has gone, that’s off the back.
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“Wales have had the taking of Australia in the last 10 years but when you look at videos back, it’s literally just been one or two examples of perhaps where they might have left a try or not taking a three-point opportunity which has been the difference between the two teams.
“Both teams have been so close in recent years – but Wales are genuinely the better team at this moment in time,” continued the Land Rover ambassador who called time on his playing career at the age of just 29.
Wales will begin their preparations for the finals on the back of a record 14-match run that included the clinching of a third Six Nations Grand Slam under Warren Gatland last March. It’s a momentum Warburton feels will be invaluable heading to Japan.
“It does help massively. I’ve gone into World Cups where we have had a poor Six Nations campaigns and vice-versa, but it’s so much easier when you have wins under your belt.
“There’s still four warm-up games to go, double-headers against England and Ireland at home and away, so there’s going to be at least two or three of those games where both unions will put out their strongest teams.
“If you can come out on top in those games, then that will be huge moving forward, but you can completely lose the momentum you have got with say three losses out of four and it completely turns it on its head. Hopefully Wales can get a good few wins in that warm-up period and that will put them in really good shape going into the group stages.”
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The disappointing regional season for the Welsh sides concludes on Saturday with Ospreys hosting Scarlets in a Champions Cup qualification play-off. Despite that important fixture, Gatland had already named his World Cup training squad and Warburton isn’t shy in naming some of the key figures who will be central to Wales’ mission in Japan.
“Alun-Wyn Jones, George North and Jonathan Davies are crucial to Wales success. Those guys, off the top of my head, I’m thinking, they have probably got seven World Cups in experience between those three players alone, so you need those guys for the younger guys so they know what to expect going into a World Cup.
Here it is! A few weeks ago I met @Cardiff_blues longest serving fan, 90 year old David Harris and along with @LandRoverRugby helped him get along to watch his team play in their last home fixture of the season. A remarkable man and a great vid, have a watch! https://t.co/kdFyZ9Wf8g
— Sam Warburton (@samwarburton_) May 16, 2019
“You’re away from home for potentially six or seven weeks, so you’re way out of your comfort zone. Particularly in Japan, it’s going to be completely different to anywhere else they would have played before. Those senior players are going to be really important to drive the standards that the players require to get to the latter stages of the World Cup.”
Warburton will be intrigued watching the finals unfold as he feels hosting the tournament in a lesser-known rugby nation like Japan can increase the global appeal of the game. “It’s huge,” he said. “I think Japan is really timely with their win against South Africa four years ago.
And to grow the game now you are looking at those countries like Japan and USA – they could be super powers of the game from a performance point of view in years to come and from a financial point of view and the fans and the player base they have is enormous as well.
“That’s two countries in particular which I think we’re doing a good job of tapping into. You want there to be 15 competitive teams. Right now, you’ve probably got eight/nine really competitive teams. If in two World Cup’s time you can develop that into 12 to 15 really strong, competitive teams, that would be great for the game of rugby.”
WATCH: Sam Warburton surprising a 90-year-old Cardiff Blues fan with a personalised drive to the club’s last game of the season. Land Rover understands and shares the values of rugby. Follow @LandRoverRugby
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