Sam Warburton - 'Losing Wales captaincy puts pressure on me'

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton will earn his 72nd cap for Wales against Scotland

Sam Warburton says he relishes no longer being captain of Wales because it puts him under more pressure to perform well.

Flanker Warburton relinquished the captaincy to lock Alun Wyn Jones before the Six Nations and says he has played better because of the change.

"I have enjoyed playing the last couple of weeks and they have been better performances than 2016," he said.

"From that point of view, it was definitely the right decision."

The 71-times-capped Cardiff Blues player has captained Wales 49 times - more than any other player.

But he has no regrets about not reaching his half-century.

"Sometimes in hindsight you look back on these things and wonder if the right decision was made, but I definitely think it was," he conceded.

Warburton has impressed in a back row alongside Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric which is selected for the third consecutive match against Scotland.

'You need the fear'

Sam Warburton
Jennifer Aniston (right) and her Friends colleagues provided surprising inspiration to former Wales captain Sam Warburton

But far from claiming the relief of not being captain has made him play better, Warburton says it's the extra pressure of not being guaranteed selection which has helped spur him on.

"If you are captain, it is a massive call to drop you," he said.

"It sounds a bit stupid, but I recall an episode of (American TV comedy) Friends where they recommend Rachel lose her job. When asked why, they said: 'Because you need the fear'.

"It's a similar thing with this.

"I genuinely wanted to not be captain because you needed to play not knowing you will be involved in the next round game; you need to have that fear of being unselected. That's what drives you every week."

The result is that Warburton - captain of the 2013 British and Irish Lions in Australia - tops the turnover charts going into the third round of matches and is being touted as a candidate for the 2017 tour to New Zealand.

"I thought if I was not captain I would have more hunger to want to play and start for Wales and almost prove it to myself again," he said.

"I felt I had to prove myself in the first two weeks.

"I have still got to try and back it up again this weekend to make sure I do that for the whole of the campaign."

'If it was best thing for team, I would be captain again'

Six Nations 2017: Sam Warburton on Wales' toughest back row selection

Warburton did briefly take up the captaincy in the opening round match against Italy when Jones went off to have a cut attended to.

But he has no ambition to take the armband back on a permanent basis.

"I have not thought about it," he said.

"At the minute I am enjoying not doing it, focusing on myself. If it was the best thing for the team, of course I would do it.

"I took over in Rome when Alun Wyn went off, but I did not have an option then.

"Cory Hill came on and said: 'Warby, you're captain'. I had to get on with it and knew it would only be for five or 10 minutes."

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