Six Nations: Wales hopeful Warburton will make France clash

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton has made just two Wales appearances since the Rugby World Cup

Wales hope Sam Warburton will recover from his knee injury to lead the side into a possible Grand Slam clash against France on 17 March.

The openside has been forced to sit out the Italy game on Saturday with a ligament problem.

He picked that up in the win against England on 25 February.

"The medical opinion is that we are very hopeful he [Warburton] will be fit to face France next week," Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said.

But Warburton had admitted earlier he was "touch and go" to be fit for the France game.

"Can I make the France match next weekend? It will be touch and go," Warburton told the Daily Telegraph.external-link

"But I'll be leaving nothing to chance."

He added: "I've got to be a little bit selfish. I've got to stay off my leg as much as possible."

Warburton, who has damaged medial ligaments, has been replaced by Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric against Italy with prop Gethin Jenkins taking over the captaincy.

It is the second match of the Six Nations which Warburton has missed. He was sidelined for the Scotland game because of a dead leg picked up in the victory over Ireland with Aaron Shingler taking his place.

Warburton had been selected for the Scotland clash despite doing no contact work in the lead up to the Scotland clash and he was withdrawn from the starting line-up before kick-off.

With Warburton missing the Italy game as well it means that Warburton has yet to skipper Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

He will be desperate to play in a possible Grand Slam-winning game against France, the side he was sent off against in the Rugby World Cup semi-final in October for a tip tackle on Vincent Clerc.

Coach Warren Gatland has also hinted Warburton could still be a doubt to make the show down with France saying he would have to "wait and see" whether the 23-year-old would be fit for their final Six Nations game.

"I am certainly not being rested for Saturday, as some have suggested," added 26-times capped Warburton.

"I went to our physios, Prav Mathema and Mark Davies, at the start of the week and asked them: if this was the last game of the championship this week and everything was riding on it... would I be playing? The response was a straightforward no.

"But I can see why people think that [I'm being rested]. I can walk without pain or a limp, and there are a lot of the gym exercises that I can do. But I cannot do anything that involves explosive movement or a change of direction.

"I saw our knee surgeon, Rhys Williams, immediately after the game and he confirmed that it was a grade one medial collateral ligament sprain, as opposed to the grade two injury I'd suffered in France.

"I asked what the timescale for recovery was, and was just told that it depended on how my rehabilitation went."