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XTRA - SAM WARBURTON - RUGBY STAR, SPURS FAN, GARETH'S FORMER CLASSMATE!
Posted 19 February 2013 12:02am
Sam Warburton has the rugby world at his feet.
The openside flanker captained Wales to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2011 and then led them to the Grand Slam in 2012.
He's now looking to recover from a shoulder injury and force his way back into the team trying to defend their Six Nations title.
England currently top the table and it could yet all be decided on the final weekend when Stuart Lancaster's men travel to the Millennium Stadium on March 16.
All eyes will then turn to the British Lions' tour of Australia this summer but longer-term, Sam has another sporting venue in his sights.
Asked how often he gets the chance to watch his beloved Spurs, he admitted: "The rugby schedule is very busy especially as international players and fixtures often clash, but when I finish playing I would love to get a Season Ticket!"
Incredibly, Sam went to the same school - Whitchurch High School, Cardiff - as a certain Gareth Bale.
Sam took time out from his busy schedule to talk to us here at tottenhamhotspur.com on the Six Nations, that Grand Slam triumph, the Wales captaincy, his love of Spurs - and, of course, his memories of Gareth...
Can you sum-up what it means to be captain of Wales in the Six Nations?
Sam Warburton: "It's a great privilege to captain Wales as it is an opportunity presented to very few people. Seeing the quality in the team it's very flattering to be considered as a candidate for captaincy."
Can you describe how it felt to win the Grand Slam (winning all five matches in the Six Nations tournament) last year, including the win against England at Twickenham and the thrilling finale against Ireland when you clinched it?
Sam: "The Grand Slam is something that is rarely achieved and Wales have had a lot of success in recent years compared to other nations. Beating England at Twickenham was a highlight of my career and to lift the trophy at our home stadium in front of 75,000 Welsh fans made an amazing atmosphere. It was a very surreal moment especially at 23-years-old."
Has last year's performances put even further pressure on this year's Six Nations?
Sam: "It has not put more pressure on us as a team. You work very hard to become favourites and a successful team and I thoroughly enjoy having that tag. Pressure brings out the best in competitive players."
Turning to football, tell us about your support of Spurs - how did that come about?
Sam: "My father was born in London and brainwashed me and my twin brother Ben to support spurs from age six when I got my first shirt. He would always tell me 'you're Spurs in the blood now boys!' He had supported Spurs most of his life too."
Onto Gareth, don't you find it incredible two world-class sportsmen like yourselves came out of the same school?
Sam: "It is very unusual. Gareth has always been a hugely-talented athlete so his success doesn't surprise me. The school also produced Geraint Thomas, a two-times Olympic gold medal cyclist who is only a little older than Gareth and I."
What do you remember of Gareth?
Sam: "I am 10 months older than Gareth but we were in the same year in school and a few classes. I remember playing against his Primary School aged 10 or 11 and he was golden boy then - nothing's changed!"
Would Gareth be any good at rugby - sprinting down the wing, perhaps?
Sam: "He messed around once at full-back. The team would develop a superb kicking game around him that's for sure! I'd assign him as a full-back or wing. He's a natural sportsman so he can probably play most sports."
Finally, you are so busy with rugby commitments, do you ever get the chance to come and watch us?
Sam: "The rugby schedule is very busy especially as international players and fixtures often clash, but when I finish playing I would love to get a Season Ticket!"