Sam Warburton respects Matthew Rees' Wales captaincy claim

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton was the youngest captain at the 2011 World Cup

Sam Warburton says he would understand if Matthew Rees was reinstated as Wales captain for next month's Six Nations.

Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton led Wales at the World Cup after Rees was ruled out with a neck injury.

"I've had no indication what's going to happen, but Matthew was captain for the last Six Nations campaign," Warburton said.

"He did a brilliant job and it was only bad luck why he didn't end up being captain in the World Cup."

Warburton added: "So if I did it as a temp thing then I completely understand that.

"I think we know there's going to be a lot of pressure and expectation in the Six Nations.

"But [defence coach] Shaun Edwards always says it, as well as [lock] Alun Wyn Jones, they reckon we play better under pressure so hopefully that's the case."

Scarlets hooker Rees returned to Test action in December as a replacement in the 18-24 loss to Australia in Cardiff, with Wales again captained by Warburton.

Both men have led their country with distinction, but despite the return of British and Irish Lion Rees to full fitness it is Warburton who is the man who was last in possession of the captain's armband.

Warburton has earned rave reviews for his performances at open-side in the last year, and this week was named the Rugby Union Writers Club's personality of 2011.

However, the 23-year-old's World Cup ended on a disappointing note after he was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc in the 8-9 semi-final loss to France.

Irish referee Alain Rolland was the man in charge that day and he has yet to officiate a game in Wales since that semi-final.

That will all change on Saturday when Rolland takes charge of the Heineken Cup game between the Scarlets and Northampton.

Warburton hopes the presence of Rolland will not detract from such a big European game at Parc y Scarlets.

"Welsh people love rugby so much they're not going to forget about that, but he was just doing his job at the end of the day," Warburton said.

"I'm sure there's a few people who will want to buy tickets purely because he's 'reffing' I imagine, but hopefully it doesn't distract from the fact that it's going to be a big game for the Scarlets."