Warburton wary of Slam talk

Wales two wins away from clean sweep after Twickenham triumph

Last Updated: 26/02/12 2:40pm

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Sam Warburton led Wales to victory over England

Sam Warburton led Wales to victory over England

Sky Bet

Superstitious Wales skipper Sam Warburton has banned himself from talking about the Grand Slam his World Cup semi-finalists are now favourites to achieve.

Home victories over Italy and France would give Wales their second RBS Six Nations title and tournament clean sweep of coach Warren Gatland's four-year reign.

A tense 19-12 Twickenham triumph against England - only their second at English rugby headquarters since 1988 - means Wales already have the Triple Crown trophy safely secured.

But that is just one third of Wales' Six Nations mission accomplished, and Warburton is not about to rest on his laurels.

Tough games

"The players don't even dare say those two words (Grand Slam)," he said.

"We've got two tough games to come, and hopefully we will have a fully fit squad fighting and ready to go.

"We haven't formally said those words are banned, but I don't want to jinx myself, so I wouldn't dare say them."

"We haven't formally said those words (Grand Slam) are banned, but I don't want to jinx myself, so I wouldn't dare say them."
Sam Warburton Quotes of the week

Warburton delivered an astounding performance considering he had not taken part in a single contact training session since going off injured at half-time against Ireland three weeks ago.

His genial work at the breakdown was even eclipsed by a remarkable try-saving tackle on England's midfield juggernaut Manu Tuilagi as he once again set standards for his willing team-mates to follow.

"This is probably the best moment of my career," Warburton added.

"It is nice that after all the hard work we have put in over the last 12 months, we've got some recognition and a little bit of silverware.

"Everyone was enjoying passing the trophy around in the changing rooms. It's a massive achievement. It is a young squad, and the first time they have achieved it."

Wales did not lead the contest until substitute centre Scott Williams' breakaway 76th-minute try broke English hearts, but Warburton and company still had to endure a fraught finale.

England, making considerable strides under Stuart Lancaster's impressive coaching direction, thought they had scored with the final play of a pulsating game.

But television match official Iain Ramage ruled that wing David Strettle had not grounded the ball for a try, and referee Steve Walsh signalled full-time with Toby Flood waiting to take what he hoped would have been an equalising conversion.

"We knew it was going to be tough, even though pundits were saying beforehand they thought we were going to run away with it," Warburton added.

"We knew it was going to be our toughest test of the Six Nations, for sure.

"They threw everything at us. I thought at times we played really poorly and England played very well. Our best 10 minutes were probably when we had the (Rhys Priestland) sin-bin, to be honest.

"It was an ugly performance from us, but to get the win under those circumstances I think shows how far we've come on as a squad.

"I thought the try at the end was going to be given.

"I thought: 'Typical, he will give the try, they will slot the conversion and it will be a bit of an anti-climax having a draw.'

"But we got the win. We have had a bit of bad luck in our time, so we will take it."


Asked about the Tuilagi tackle and what went through his mind as the Leicester powerhouse rumbled forward, Warburton added: "Just closing my eyes and diving at his ankles.

"I knew they had bust through, so I ran in, went as low as I could and held on for dear life, really.

"With the low tackling, you have got to be willing to break your nose and fly in head-first, but you reap the rewards in the end.

"I hadn't had one full session since the Ireland game, no contact or anything, and I had to get my knee strapped up quite early in the game, but I thought there was no way I was going off.

"I love putting the red jersey on and playing for Wales. We were really nervous, because we knew about the expectation from back home and what was up for grabs with the Triple Crown, so it did have a bit of an edge.

"But the atmosphere was brilliant, probably one of the best I've played in. The last couple of minutes were tough, but it was similar to when we played Ireland in the World Cup quarter-final - we just did not want to let it slip."

Wales now have two weeks to prepare for Italy's Millennium Stadium visit, although centre Jamie Roberts could be a doubt after exiting at half-time against England because of knee ligament trouble.

It is thought to be a recurrence of the injury that sidelined him for six weeks before the Six Nations started.

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