Six Nations

Warburton back for Wales

2012-03-15 16:32
Sam Warburton (File)

Cardiff - Wales hopes of winning the Six Nations Grand Slam were given a boost on Thursday after inspirational captain Sam Warburton was declared fit for this weekend's clash with France.

Marauding openside flanker Warburton comes into the side in place of Justin Tipuric in the only change from the team which defeated Italy last weekend.

Warburton's return gives him the opportunity to make amends following his sending off against the French in the World Cup semi-final last year, which France won 9-8.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has welcomed Warburton's return but insisted his team would not be overwhelmed by the occasion.

"In camp, all we can and must do is make preparations as normal," Gatland said. "The magnitude of the game is not lost on us, but it is irrelevant to how we prepare.

"We have our captain back, and although Justin Tipuric is unlucky after playing well in his place last week, Sam's presence is a welcome boost to everyone.

"We are obviously aware of what this game means to the fans.

"60 000 of them came to the Millennium Stadium during the Rugby World Cup to watch us face France in the semi-final on the television screens, and that tells you everything about how dedicated they are.

"But this weekend we play in front of a sell-out 74 500 crowd with a chance to make history in Cardiff, and they will be there to watch us in the flesh.

"They can make a real and positive contribution to the atmosphere and, like us, will be thinking of nothing other than the here and now."

Teams:

Wales:

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Michael Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton(captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun-Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Luke Charteris, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Lloyd Williams, 21 James Hook, 22 Scott Williams

France:

15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pap, 3 David Attoub, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux

Substitutes: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Louis Picamoles, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 Francois Trinh-Duc, 22 Jean-Marcellin Buttin

NEXT ON SPORT24X

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