Sam Warburton excited by new Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill

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Lions captain Sam Warburton backs his Cardiff Blues team-mates to win the Challenge Cup

Sam Warburton says new Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill is "just what we need" at the Welsh region.

The 51-year-old Australian replaces Danny Wilson, who has left to join Wasps.

"I've spoken to John and I was really excited coming off the phone to him... I was ready to play there and then!" said Warburton, who has missed all of this season through injury.

"It's a great start... I really like his values and his coaching ethos."

The 29-year-old added: "Even though I think Danny has been one of my favourite coaches to work with... it seems like they've got the right appointment for next season in John.

"What I liked from John was he still wanted to develop players and get more out of them individually, rather than just be focused on the team.

"There's still a lot of emphasis on skill development, which is what we need still at the Blues with some young players.

"He seems a demanding Australian and that's just what we need!"

Warburton captained the British and Irish Lions in the drawn series against New Zealand last year, but has not played since the third Test in Auckland in July after having knee surgery and sustaining a neck injury.

While he is set to return to action next season, missing Wales' summer tour, in the flanker's absence Blues have announced wholesale coaching changes, with former Wales Under-20s head coach Jason Strange joining as backs and attack coach in place of Ospreys-bound Matt Sherratt.

John Mulvihill
John Mulvihill joins Cardiff Blues after leaving his role as assistant coach with Japanese club Honda Heat

But on the pitch Blues have reached the Challenge Cup final, where they face Gloucester in Bilbao on Friday, and secured a place in next season's Champions Cup by finishing high enough in the Pro14.

"We're in such a good place at the minute with momentum and the attitude of the players has completely changed," Warburton said.

"I've seen that happen over the past four or five years, just inching better and better, and now it's great that we can actually see some results of that.

"Even though we didn't know who the head coach was going to be we had 15 to 20 players re-sign.

"People don't see from the outside how well the boys get on together in training, how much they enjoy working together week to week.

"You can see that on the field now."

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