Sam Warburton reveals that he almost left the 2017 Lions tour ahead of the second test

Sam Warburton reveals that he almost left the 2017 Lions tour ahead of the second test

Former British & Irish Lions and Wales captain Sam Warburton has revealed that a phone call to his mom stopped him from quitting the team during their the 2017 tour to New Zealand.

The former flanker said he was overwhelmed by emotional and physical pain ahead of the second test in Wellington after the All Blacks won the first test of the series.

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Sam Warburton has revealed that he almost left the 2017 Lions tour ahead of the second test ­čĄ»

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In an extract from his soon-to-be-released book 'Open Side', published by Wales Online, Warburton says he came close to walking out on the eve of the second test against the All Blacks in Wellington.

Warburton says he was in an emotional and physical state and had planned to leave New Zealand and fly back to the UK, without telling anybody. 

However, before he executed his plan, he spoke to his mum, who talked him out of his radical idea.

"Why am I putting myself through all this pain - all this pressure - when I could be doing something – anything – else?" Warburton wrote. "Why am I in a job which, right now, I detest?

"Before I go out to play these days, I have to take neck-pain tablets, while the physios strap me up like an Egyptian mummy. I have to stand there, butt naked in front of them, cupping my twig and berries, while they bind my knees, my ankles, my shoulders and my elbows.

"'I've had enough, Mum.' My throat is tight with the effort of not bursting into tears.

"'I really have. I'm just going to go.'

"'Go where?'

"'To the airport. Do a bunk, leave all my kit here, get on the first plane home. 

"I'll be in the air before they realise I've gone.'


"I didn't, of course. Can you imagine the headlines - THE RUNAWAY SKIPPER.

"And no-one knew, apart from my mum. She talked me down, told me that I didn't owe anything to anyone, so all I had to do was get through this week, and the next and then the series would be over, and I could do what I wanted.


"She was right, of course. She knew the way love for - and hatred of - rugby oscillated within me, because they did for her too. 

Warburton went on to play in the second test, captaining the team to a 24-21 win, before the teams played out a 15-15 draw - and drawn series - a week later.


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