Captain Warburton lifting Wales, says Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny has hailed the on and off-field leadership of Wales captain Sam Warburton as the flanker prepares to lead the Six Nations champions on their three-Test tour of Australia.
Warburton has suffered a series of niggling injuries since Wales’ march to the World Cup semi-finals, and was limited to playing just 160 minutes of their grand slam campaign.
But the 23-year-old has recovered from the shoulder nerve injury he suffered against France and is set to skipper Wales as they look to take the next step in their development and claim a major southern hemisphere scalp.
Warburton was only handed the captaincy due to injury to hooker Matthew Rees, but given how he dealt with the disappointment of his semi-final red card and his assured manner during the tournament, he’s made the role his own.
The Cardiff Blues flanker has won plenty of praise for his all-round professionalism and how he and the likes of Dan Lydiate and George North have set an example to the older members of the squad, some of whom have been involved in alcohol-related incidents in recent years.
And his regional teammate Halfpenny says Warburton’s presence against the Wallabies is a “massive boost” for Wales, citing his conduct following the World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland as an example of his leadership qualities.
“Sam is massive for us, not just as a player, he leads by example. He is such a great leader,” Halfpenny said.
“We had a good win against Ireland in the World Cup where we could easily have gone out and celebrated but we didn’t.
“It was a great win, we were through to the semi-finals and for the whole of Wales it was amazing, but we still felt we had unfinished business and we had another game.
“Sam called us together and said we would have a curfew and every single player was in by that time.
“No one was out after that at all and that is professionalism, not getting carried away and keeping a lid on things.
“There are examples like that where we are just professional in everything we do and Sam leads that.”© AP 2013
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