Williams tips Warburton to improve
June 1, 2010
Martyn Williams has tipped Sam Warburton to improve when facing the All Blacks © Getty Images
Martyn Williams believes that Wales have nothing to lose as they take on South Africa and New Zealand in a daunting summer schedule.
Wales round off their season with a showdown against the Springboks in Cardiff and a two-Test series against the All Blacks, with head coach Warren Gatland taking no prisoners in his quest to expose his young squad to the toughest challenges available in the world game.
Williams has been rested for the Tests with a view to next year's Rugby World Cup but he has tipped his rival for the No.7 jersey, 21-year-old Sam Warburton, to benefit greatly from a meeting with All Black skipper Richie McCaw.
"He'll benefit so much not only from the New Zealand game but also the South Africa one, that's a quality side they're bringing over," he told ESPNscrum. "The only way you get better is playing against the best sides and I think we'll have a few young players cutting their teeth and becoming much better for it. Fingers crossed we'll do well."
Despite the relative inexperience of the squad, Williams believes that there is a solid foundation to the touring party. British & Irish Lions Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Alun-Wyn Jones and Andy Powell will all add their weight to the forward effort while the backs, including Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and Lee Byrne, will be marshalled by Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips.
"They're champing at the bit, the younger boys who are going," he said. "There's still a lot of experience in there, the backbone will still be Lions players who toured last year. They'll throw in a few youngsters as well who'll get their first big games against the Tri-Nations. It'll just add to the depth of our squad come November."
Wales, as seems to be customary for their summer tours, are missing several notable players for the games. James Hook, Luke Charteris and Dwayne Peel will all remain at home due to surgery, injury and a rest period respectively. The biggest blow to their hopes came in the wake of Cardiff Blues' European Challenge Cup triumph over Toulon however, with loose-head Gethin Jenkins ruled out with a calf problem. The injury limited Jenkins' involvement during the Six Nations to a single start and Williams admitted that the Lions prop's absence is a troubling one.
"It's a huge loss but in saying that Paul [James] has had a few games and John Yapp has come back, so we have a little bit of depth," he said. "But to be honest he's pretty unique. Just having him around and going onto the park with him give you so much confidence. It's a massive blow for the squad but you've just got to deal with that."