Rugby World Cup 2011: Williams hails Wales captain Warburton

Sam Warburton (left) and Martyn Williams
Warburton and Williams are open-side rivals for club and country

Martyn Williams has praised the achievement of open-side rival Sam Warburton, who will become Wales' youngest World Cup captain.

The 22-year-old became Wales' second youngest skipper when he led Wales in defeat by the Barbarians in June.

Now flanker Warburton hopes to inspire Wales to cup success in New Zealand.

"I hope everyone starts focusing on what a big deal it is for Sam to achieve that at such a young age," said Williams, omitted from Wales' squad.

"He will be superb again and lead the boys like he has done so well over the last couple of games."

Only the great Gareth Edwards skippered Wales at a younger age but Williams feels Warburton, who has captained his country in three of his 17 caps, will rise to the challenge.

Williams' hopes of appearing in his fourth World Cup were dashed when Gatland chose just one open-side flanker, Warburton, in his 30-man World Cup squad.

However, Williams, 35, has nothing but support for Wales and Blues colleague Warburton.

"It is great for him and luckily we get on really well," said Williams.

"I've known Sam for a long time and we always knew how good a player he was going to be.

"He has been outstanding, particularly over the last 18 months."

Williams, admits he was "disappointed" at being left out of Gatland's squad just days after captaining Wales in their 28-13 win over Argentina in his 99th Welsh cap.

The veteran forward was persuaded to come out of international retirement by Gatland in 2008 - where he went on to win his second Grand Slam - as the Wales coach wanted to nurse him through to this World Cup.

"Warren was up front with me last week," revealed Williams.

"He said if the squad split went 16 forwards and 14 backs that there'd be one specialist open-side flanker going. But you hope they change their mind.

"It would be nice to get to 100 caps but I won't lose any sleep if I don't. I've done all I can."

Williams could be called into the World Cup squad if Wales pick up injuries.

"When I wasn't named in the Six Nations squad I thought I'd never be part of another set-up," he recalled.

"But I was given a second chance. No-one knows what is around the corner.

"God forbid anybody getting injured but if it does happen and I'm called upon, I would love to go."

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