Six Nations: Wales v Ireland - Sam Warburton 'feels great'

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton captained British and Irish Lions on their successful tour of Australia in 2013
Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Date: Sunday, 7 February Venue: Aviva Stadium Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Sam Warburton says he can hit the ground running in Wales' Six Nations opener, despite playing only once since November because of an ankle injury.

The flanker has been picked to start Sunday's clash with Ireland in Dublin.

The captain, 27, will play on the blind-side in place of Dan Lydiate with Justin Tipuric starting at Warburton's usual open-side position.

He said: "I feel great. If I blow a gasket, we've got a British and Irish Lion (Lydiate) to come off the bench."

The Cardiff Blues flanker injured an ankle in a collision with Wales team-mate and regular open-side rival Justin Tipuric in the 13-6 defeat by Ospreys on 28 November.

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Warburton made his comeback by playing 80 minutes in Blues' European Challenge Cup 74-6 win over Calvisano, but was not released back to his region for last weekend's Pro12 win over Edinburgh.

However, the man who succeeded hooker Matthew Rees as Wales captain in 2011, is unconcerned by a lack of matches in the run up to the Six Nations.

"I've done it quite a few times before and it hasn't really bothered me too much," Warburton added.

Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric
Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric have been rivals for Wales number seven shirt

"The intensity that we replicate in training has been good and this will be my fourth trip to Ireland and you kind of know what tempo to expect, how quick it's going to be and how physical it's going to be.

"You know what's coming so from that point of view my mind and body are ready for that."

Warburton is selected on the blind-side in place of Lydiate with Tipuric starting at the captain's usual open-side position.

But Warburton said: "Chopping and changing in the back row is not too disruptive.

"In open play I just play like normal and try and do my best to work with Justin as I would with Dan or any other back row when it comes to the contact area and defence.

"So apart from set-piece very little will change."

Sonja McLaughlan presents a preview of the 2016 Six Nations Championship. Guests include Wales forward Ryan Jones and ex-England fly-half Paul Grayson (tonight, 1900 GMT, Radio 5 live).

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