Six Nations: England 'can compare' to New Zealand - Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton captained Wales for the first time against the Barbarians in June 2011 at the age of just 22
Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Wales flanker Sam Warburton says Six Nations rivals England are justifiably regarded as being the equal of world champions New Zealand.

Eddie Jones' side will arrive in Cardiff seeking a 16th successive win, three away from a world record.

The All Blacks and South Africa share the tier-one nations' 18-match winning run record.

"England are deservedly tagged as the best team in the northern hemisphere," said Warburton.

"It's a fair judgement to compare them to the All Blacks right now - that's how good they are.

"It is going to take a huge game out of us to get a win, and it will be one of the biggest games of the championship for sure."

Why everyone wants to beat England

Warburton also explained the reasons he believes fire up every opponent England meet in the Six Nations.

The ex-Wales captain insists it is down to England's recent successful record.

"Chatting to [different countries'] players, that's how they feel, they really prioritise that and everyone just wants to beat England," he said.

"That's due to the success in the past and the success they're going through now. It's always a big scalp."

International rugby began with Scotland and England meeting in 1879.

Four years later the Home Nations tournament began with Wales and Ireland taking on England and Scotland.

Since then, the Celtic nations have traditionally revelled in their rivalries with England.

England are unbeaten under Jones, who succeeded Stuart Lancaster after their group-stage exit from the 2015 World Cup.

Wales contributed to England's downfall in the tournament they hosted with a win at Twickenham, but lost twice to them in 2016.

England is Wales' 'biggest game'

"If you're Wales, the biggest game you play in in the Six Nations is England," said Warburton.

"If you're Scotland, it's England. If you're Ireland, it's England. Or if you're France or Italy, it's England," said Warburton, whose father was born in England.

"We know as players that's the one game the fans look forward to most and you sense that in the build-up. It's a huge occasion for everyone in Wales.

"But for me, I always cherish any win against any opposition in the Six Nations and in the last three years [since Wales' 2013 title win] I've realised how difficult it is to win a championship."

Wales' back-row 'headache'

Cardiff Blues' Warburton predicts selection headaches if Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau has recovered from a knee injury for Saturday's match.

Gloucester's Ross Moriarty played at eight in the opening victory in Italy and could rival Warburton for the blind-side flanker's role if Faletau is risked for a starting place.

"The back-row competition is so fierce at the minute, I don't want to put pressure on him, but Toby [Faletau], when he's playing well, is one of the best players in the world. I think he's fantastic," Warburton added.

"If he did come back I'm sure there would be a few selection headaches in the back-row because Ross and Justin [Tipuric] went extremely well against Italy."

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