Rees backs Warburton

Sam Warburton has been backed to reap the rewards of his injury-enforced lay-off. [more]

Rees backs Warburton

Sam Warburton has been backed to reap the rewards of his injury-enforced lay-off.

The British & Irish Lions captain has been ruled out for up to 16 weeks after tearing his hamstring in the second Test against Australia.

That could see the formidable flanker ruled out until mid-October but his Wales teammate Matthew Rees reckons he will make a swift return and fire on all cylinders.

Rees said: “Sam’s a true professional and the way he puts his body on the line injuries are going to happen. But with the medical staff we have I’m confident he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

“He’s only 24 and what he has achieved in his career already, in such a short space of time, is just great.

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“But I’m pretty sure with the hype of a Lions tour, being captain and what’s gone on in the last couple of weeks the break will do him good.

“It will benefit not just the mind but the body as well. When he comes back he will be fighting fit and better than ever.”

Rees was a Test Lion in 2009 but missed out on the victorious tour of Australia after falling out of favour with Wales.

The 32-year-old was overtaken by Lions hooker Richard Hibbard and Ken Owens in the Wales pecking order.

But Rees has refused to turn his back on the Three Feathers and hopes his move to join Warburton at Cardiff Blues, following nine years at the Scarlets will pay dividends in his search for further international honours.

“It’s a case of getting back to where I was a couple of seasons ago in terms of playing,” said Rees.

“I’ve got an opportunity with the Blues and I just can’t wait to get the jersey on and start playing.

“I was frustrated not to be involved in the majority of the Six Nations games after the loss against Ireland.

“It was great to see so many boys do well towards the end of that campaign and they were rewarded with the Lions tour.

“But not being involved with the Lions was one of the low points of my career having been part of 2009.

“As much as I was disappointed, at the end of the day no-one else is going to change that.

“It’s only myself who is going to get me back in that Welsh squad. That’s the challenge I am faced with.

“I’ve definitely got a point to prove. I’m ready for the challenge and will have a good shot at it.

“International rugby is demanding and has gone to another level but you only have one career and retiring hasn’t even entered my mind. I want to keep playing for as long as possible.”

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