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Warburton: Making RWC semis now would be bigger than in 2011

Wales captain Warburton: Reaching Rugby World Cup semifinals would be bigger feat than in 2011

Warburton: Making RWC semis now would be bigger than in 2011

LONDON (AP) -- Reaching the Rugby World Cup semifinals on Saturday would be a bigger achievement for Wales captain Sam Warburton than it was four years ago in New Zealand.

In 2011, the Welsh blew their semifinal against France 9-8, after Warburton was sent off.

This time, Wales has endured the worst injury toll of any squad, come through the toughest pool in tournament history, and lined up a quarterfinal at Twickenham with two-time champion South Africa, a country the Welsh have beaten only twice in more than a century.

"It would be a better achievement (making the semis) than four years ago because it has been a tougher route to get there," Warburton said on Thursday at the team's London base.

"If we manage to get to the semifinals, it would be awesome, purely because in the last World Cup we didn't beat a southern hemisphere team, and that is a target of mine -- beating a southern hemisphere team when it matters."

Wales beat South Africa 12-6 in Cardiff last November, ending a miserable run of 22 consecutive defeats to the Springboks, All Blacks or Wallabies. But the Welsh haven't beaten one of the big three at a Rugby World Cup since defeating Australia, which was reduced to 14 men after a player was red-carded, in the 1987 third-place playoff.

Warburton dismissed Wales' poor history there, saying he preferred to make history.

"Players never talk about history or psychological battles, I think that's irrelevant," he said. "I am always the optimist."

Warburton said his favorite English Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, could be playing Manchester United "and I always think they are going to win. It's just the way I am."

"It doesn't matter who you play or what record you've got, you have always got a chance of winning," he added. "We have got some good tough games under our belt which will prepare us well for this quarterfinal. We have got an excellent chance of winning, and I am confident we can do so."

Updated : 2021-09-27 14:27 GMT+08:00