Warburton wary of Samoa threat
October 4, 2012
Wales' Sam Warburton hurdles a tackle on his Test debut © Getty Images
Wales skipper Sam Warburton has singled out Samoa as the toughest opponent he has faced on the international scene.
Warburton has faced the top three sides in the International Rugby Board Rankings - New Zealand, South Africa and Australia - along with England and France, but he has revealed that the Pacific Islanders are the most physical team he has come up against.
Wales host Samoa on November 16 in the first of four autumn internationals and Warburton will be fully aware of the threats the Islanders pose.
"Samoa is probably the toughest international game that I've played in, both when we played them in the World Cup and for my first start for Wales as well," Warburton said. "I've got very fond memories of playing against them in my first start for Wales, you know what you are going to get with them, they are an extremely tough physical side, but just because you know what's coming it doesn't make it any easier.
"Even though I've beaten them when we played them, two times out of two, you don't forget how physical they are, particularly in the tackle area, so it's going to be a very hard game.
"The game in the Rugby World Cup was a particularly tough match, I know everyone talks about their physicality and it's difficult to put into words exactly where that impression comes from unless you've played against them. It's easy to see the big hits and there are plenty of them but generally speaking as well, when they clean out in rucks and in defence they don't tend to hold anything back at all.
"They are great to play against, but if you are on the wrong end of a hospital pass then it's not too pleasant - but it's great to play these teams and experience different rugby styles and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Samoa will be the second test the Welsh face this autumn, but first of all they come up against Argentina on November 10. And with the Pumas coming off the back of the Rugby Championship with widespread praise for their efforts against the big three southern hemisphere sides, Warburton is anticipating a tough match against Santiago Phelan's men.
"The Pumas are getting closer to the top three teams, just as we like to think we are and they will be looking to send a message around the rugby watching world by beating us in November," Warburton said. "They are very much the same as Samoa in a lot of ways, they are a very physical team as well.
"Australia probably play quicker rugby and are a bit more expansive but the Pumas will be just as tough. All three of those games I think will be great spectacles and great rugby matches. The standard that Argentina are playing at now because of their involvement in the Rugby Championship will make them even more competitive.
"I watched them against Australia and it was a game Argentina lost rather than the Wallabies won. They scored two tries and played very well, it was in Australia as well, and we know how tough it is to go out to Australia and play, so I was very impressed with that match.
"They have a couple of real world class players they gave us a tough test when they came to the Millennium Stadium in the World Cup warm-up game last summer, and I'm sure it will be equally as tough again because of the standard of rugby they've been exposed to the last few months."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch