Warburton set to stand down as Wales captain – reports

Published: Wednesday 11th January 2017 by The News Editor

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Sam Warburton is set to stand down as Wales captain ahead of this season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship, according to reports.

Wales’ interim head coach Rob Howley – in charge this season while Warren Gatland prepares for the British and Irish Lions’ New Zealand tour in June – will name his Six Nations squad next Tuesday.

And while 69 times-capped Warburton will be part of that group, speculation is rife that he will relinquish the captaincy role he has held since 2011.

Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton, who has skippered Wales more times than any other player, led his country outstandingly in the last two World Cup campaigns and was Lions leader for the successful tour of Australia in 2013.

But Warburton is reportedly more concentrated on producing top form and securing a starting place in Wales’ highly-competitive back-row area.

Justin Tipuric starred in the openside flanker position during Wales’ autumn internationals this season, while Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty has also emerged as a considerable back-row force since being handed an opportunity at Test level.

If 28-year-old Warburton does give up the captaincy, then Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones would be a clear favourite to take over for a Six Nations campaign that begins for Wales against Italy in Rome on February 5.

Jones, 31, has led Wales in the past and captained the Lions in the series-clinching third Test win against Australia after Warburton missed out because of injury.

It would also put him further in the frame as a potential Lions skipper for the New Zealand tour.

Prop Gethin Jenkins – like Jones, a member of Test rugby’s 100-cap club – would have been another major Wales contender, but he is currently sidelined due to injury and could miss the entire Six Nations.

Published: Wednesday 11th January 2017 by The News Editor

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