Red Card nightmare won’t haunt Warburton

Sam Warburton broke Welsh hearts when his red card in the 2011 World Cup semi-final signalled a close defeat by France and ruined any chance of a first final appearance for the nation.

But the Wales skipper said his sending off for a tip tackle on Vincent Clerc just 20 minutes into that Auckland clash will not affect the way he challenges in this year’s World Cup.

A 14-man Wales team lost the game 9-8 and the painful memories remain. But Warburton, who will start at blindside flanker against Uruguay on Sunday, said starting a second tournament was not a matter of closure for him.

“No, I put that to bed three years 11 months ago!” the Cardiff Blues forward said.

“Obviously when people mention it I’ll think about it and if someone asks me about 2011 the first thing that comes to my mind is probably the red card.

“Going into this one is a completely different scenario and that doesn’t have any bearing on the way I’m going to tackle or anything like that.”

Warburton added: “It feels like ages ago. To fans it probably feels like it’s just around the corner, four years and the Rugby World Cup.

“But for me so much has happened since then individually and as a team and we’ve gone through so much, that experience almost feels like another lifetime ago.”

Wales face a tough Pool A against hosts England and two-time champions Australia, currently ranked second in the world, 2007 conquerers Fiji and likely whipping boys Uruguay.

Warburton, like coach Warren Gatland, was not keen to predict a scoreline against minnows Uruguay.

“We have to be respectful to Uruguay who will be more organised than in the past,” he said.

“They’ve had a month together so will be more organised. No one knows what a good score is until a couple of teams play.

“It’s quite a tricky situation. The main thing is you want to get a win and if you’re in a bonus point situation great and after that we’ll be foot down for 80 minutes.

“In no game will we ease up as you don’t want to look back in four weeks and wish you’d pushed a bit harder.”

Warburton, a Tottenham Hotspur football fan whose dog is named Ledley after former Spurs defender Ledley King, admitted that he could have seen more of the Uruguay football team than the largely amatuer rugby side.

“I probably have!” Warburton acknowledged, saying however that he has spent some time on analysis.

“I’ve done a lot this morning – a good half-hour look at Uruguay – and a couple of days ago.

“It’s awesome for Uruguay, used to playing in front of 5-10,000 people… It’ll be an amazing experience in a packed-out Millennium Stadium.

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