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Warburton eyes shot at Welsh history

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/06/2016 Andrew Baldock

Wales captain Sam Warburton is set to shake off a shoulder injury and return to the scene of arguably his most painful rugby experience.

World class flanker Warburton is expected to lead the tourists onto Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday for the first Test in their three-match series against the All Blacks.

His last game there was the 2011 World Cup semi-final loss to France when he was sent off midway through the first-half.

Since then, the 27-year-old has led the British and Irish Lions on triumphant tour of Australia while Wales have won two Six Nations titles and reached a World Cup quarter-final.

He has put his black mark behind him and says he is relishing world rugby's greatest challenge.

Warburton says being part of a Welsh side to beat the All Blacks on their home soil is an exciting opportunity.

"I am never, ever going to go into a game not believing we are going to win it. I can't wait for it," he said.

"We obviously know that New Zealand are massive favourites. They have been the world's best team for a long time now, and they will be the best team we have played against probably in the last three or four years.

"The feeling of victory, then, is what motivates you because it would make it that much greater an achievement."

The All Blacks play their first Test match next weekend since claiming a second successive World Cup triumph last autumn, and they go into battle without the likes of retired record-breaking captain Richie McCaw and France-based trio Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Warburton has already warned his team-mates not to expect anything other than a very strong New Zealand team, noting the success of the Kiwi franchises in Super Rugby.

"Don't get me wrong, the experienced players will be missed, but the ones they have coming through is scary."

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