Matthew Rees wants Wales captaincy again

Matthew Rees
Rees captained Wales for the first time against Australia in November 2010

Matthew Rees has challenged himself to regain the Wales captaincy for their 2012 Six Nations campaign.

Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton kept the role for Wales' December loss to Australia but Rees is keen to remind Warren Gatland of his leadership skill.

"It was something I was disappointed with, losing the captaincy," admitted Scarlets skipper Rees.

"It is a challenge for myself obviously to get that back.

"Sam has done a great job at the World Cup but the unfortunate thing for me was I lost it through an injury not because of form - and sometimes it is quite hard to swallow.

"But that's rugby and it is how you react and bounce back.

"For me it is about putting in some performances and I have a great opportunity over the next six weeks to do that."

Rees has inspired his Scarlets side to the top of Heineken Cup Pool One since returning from neck surgery and the British and Irish Lions hooker will lead the Welsh region in their forthcoming European double-header against reigning Pro 12 champions Munster.

The Llanelli side face Ospreys on Boxing Day and Newport Gwent Dragons on 30 December in the festive Pro 12 Welsh derbies.

Then Rees will hope to guide the Scarlets into the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup for the first time in four years when they face Northampton and Castres in January.

Rees's leadership qualities will once again be assessed by Wales coach Gatland should the Scarlets continue their current form of just one defeat in nine games in all competitions.

"My priority is to captain the Scarlets with a lot of big games coming up," he insisted.

Asked if not being Wales captain added to his focus, Rees replied: "Yes, definitely."

The 30-year-old, who Rees replaced Ryan Jones as Wales skipper in November 2010, praised Warburton's captaincy as Wales finished fourth at the World Cup in New Zealand but Rees would like to lead Wales in their Six Nations opener in Ireland on Sunday, 5 February.