Six Nations 2015: Dual contract 'working' - Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton made his Wales debut against the United States in 2009

Wales captain Sam Warburton says being on a national dual contract helped ensure he played all five Six Nations games by keeping him injury-free.

The Cardiff Blues flanker became the first of Wales' current generation to sign a deal that means Wales decide when he plays for his club.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) funds 60% of the deal and regions pay the rest.

"That national dual contract is working. It's kept me on the pitch," Warburton said, after Wales beat Italy.

Warburton's deal was completed after the WRU and the four regions settled long-running differences with a £60m, six-year agreement in August 2014.

Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar (both Ospreys), Scott Williams (Scarlets) and the uncapped Gareth Anscombe (Blues) are the latest players to sign such contracts.

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Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Jake Ball, Samson Lee, Rhodri Jones (all Scarlets), Tyler Morgan and Hallam Amos (both Newport Gwent Dragons) have also followed Warburton's example.

Warburton, who began at Glamorgan Wanderers as a teenager, has suffered serious knee and shoulder injuries that have disrupted his career.

He played limited parts in Wales' 2012 Grand Slam and 2013 title wins and also missed the deciding Lions Test in Australia in 2013 because of injury.

But with Wales effectively deciding when he does and does not play for the Blues, Warburton is delighted to have played in all his national team's tournament games.

Wales beat Italy 61-20 in Rome in their Six Nations finale, but missed out on winning a third title in four years on points difference.

Ireland's 40-10 win over Scotland ensured Wales could not finish in top spot and they were eventually third after England beat France 55-35 at Twickenham.

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Warburton was "pretty pleased" overall with Wales' tournament efforts, as they recovered from an opening defeat by England to win their remaining games.

"I think in every game we have got better," he said.

He also said he and his team-mates were confident they could produce the sort of seven-try performance that helped them beat Italy.

"I think we always thought we were capable of having an attacking performance like that," said try-scorer Warburton.

"And to be fair to Warren [Gatland] and Rob [Howley], the coaches, they always do tell us to play - and that's not recently; that's been over the last few years.

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"Maybe it's been a confidence issue for players to go for it.

"I think we're a lot more confident as a side now than we were 12 months or 24 months ago."

Warburton says ending the tournament on such a high note is a boost for the 2015 World Cup in which they face hosts England plus Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in Pool A.

"It does give us a nice little bit of momentum going into the World Cup," he added.

"The one thing I am is really proud of the boys. We stuck to the game plan, we were patient and things unfolded like we thought they would.

"I think we showed a lot of experience and composure."

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