Warburton raises the bar for Boks

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 08:55
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The spotlight may be on Eli Walker, but for captain Sam Warburton the match is about proving Wales they are genuine World Cup contenders.

The spotlight may be firmly on rookie Eli Walker, but for Wales captain Sam Warburton the match is about proving they are genuine World Cup contenders.

Walker will make his debut in a side which will feature 11 members of the successful British and Irish Lions team when the Welsh host the Springboks in Cardiff on Saturday.

Wales return to the Millennium Stadium for the first time since their 30-3 victory over England last March.

Since then Warburton has lead the B&I Lions to a series victory in Australia and is targeting another big scalp over the next four weeks.

"Until we beat a Southern Hemisphere side I don't think we can call ourselves contenders for the World Cup," The Welsh captain said ahead of Saturday's big showdown.

"That's why it's so important we do it now, because the long term building starts this November.

"We've been building for two or three years and now all 23 boys will go out and expect to win on Saturday.

"There will be no massive celebrations if we do, we feel that's what is expected of us.

"We've had a really relaxed couple of weeks training so far.

"Last week was probably the best first week a lot of the guys had been involved with from a national point of view. We were picking things up really easily and the new guys have come in and done well."

Wales' last meeting with South Africa saw the Springboks edge the 2011 World Cup opener by a single point.

Warburton believes Saturday's game will be similarly close and is relishing the physical challenge ahead.

"The last few games we've had against South Africa have been very close," said the Cardiff Blues man.

"I've played against them twice, the first was only my second start for Wales and I played against Francois Louw. I think he's one of the best in world rugby, he's an outstanding player.

"If he's involved that will be a great battle and I've always loved playing South Africa. It's personal when teams want to come to your home stadium and want to impose themselves physically.

"I know all the Welsh guys will love that challenge."