Warburton to step down as Wales captain?
NEWS: Wales captain Sam Warburton may be set to stand aside as leader in the Six Nations and also to rule himself out of contention to captain the British and Irish Lions this year.
Walesonline.co.uk reported that Warburton, a 49-cap captain, wants to concentrate on his game. Having led Wales to two Six Nations titles, the semifinal of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the Lions to a series win over Australia in 2013, Warburton has suffered several injuries in recent times.
Those enforced breaks have sapped his confidence at the same time as his place on the openside of the scrum is under pressure from Justin Tipuric, and other contenders.
The November series of internationals was typical of the frustrations he has suffered. He missed the opening game against Australia but then returned for Wales' win over Argentina, when he didn't captain the team in order to just focus on his game where he played on the blindside of the scrum with Tipuric on the openside.
He then skippered the side to a win over Japan but missed the final game against South Africa when injuring his shoulder at training.
Should he stand down as captain, coach Rob Howley will have issues replacing him as prop Gethin Jenkins who captained the side in November is out with a chest injury while loose forward Dan Lydiate's knee injury has forced him out of the entire Six Nations campaign.
The job is likely to fall to lock Alun Wyn Jones who has captained Wales before and who filled in for the injured Warburton in the deciding third Test against Australia for the Lions in 2013. Wyn Jones is also regarded as a contender for the Lions' captaincy.
Howley will name his captain for the Six Nations later this month as Wales go into the competition third-ranked behind England and Ireland.
Wales' opening game is against Italy on Sunday, February 5