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  1. ITV Report

Sam Warburton urges Wales to 'become the greatest Welsh team we've ever had'

Sam Warburton has encouraged the Wales squad to "prove yourselves right, and become the greatest Welsh team we've ever had", ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament in Japan.

The team touched down in Tokyo on Wednesday ahead of their first game against Georgia, which kicks off on September 23 in Toyota.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain said the boost the squad had received from briefly becoming number one in the world rugby rankings means the players will be "presuming they are number one in the world, and they're going to the win that World Cup - and they can do it."

Sam Warburton lifts the trophy as Wales celebrate winning the Grand Slam in 2012 Credit: PA

Warburton admitted he had always intended to be a part of Wales' World Cup squad, but found his body "just wouldn't let me get to those levels". He subsequently announced his retirement from the sport in 2018 aged 29.

"I was planning on going to this World Cup", he said.

"You know deep down I knew I wasn't going to make the Lions Tour in two years time, so I'd humour people when they asked me about that.

"But when people asked me about the World Cup, yeah that was going to be my final big tournament. So the fact that I couldn't do that... I mean my body just wouldn't let me get to those levels.

"But because a lot of my close mates were there and guys I've come through the system with, since I was 11 some of them, because it's like my generation of players it's quite hard watching.

"But at the same time, I'm really excited as a fan to see what they can achieve. So if they won a World Cup final, half of me would be like oh I wish I was there, the other half of me, like the rest of the country, would just be that ecstatic fan who couldn't be happier for them."

At the age of 22, Sam became Wales' youngest player to lead out his team in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Credit: PA

Warburton spent his entire professional career with Cardiff Blues, making his debut for his hometown region in April 2009, and is one of the most successful British & Irish Lions captains of all time.

He bowed out of rugby with a glittering CV including leading Wales to Grand Slam and Six Nations glory as well as to two Rugby World Cups.

He is only the second man to captain the Lions on two tours as he led the famous touring team to New Zealand.

In August it was announced that Warburton would join a pundit line-up of some of rugby's biggest names for ITV's coverage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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