Recovering Sam Warburton targeting January return

Wales star Sam Warburton says he has had “no hiccups so far” in his recovery from neck surgery.

The twice British and Irish Lions captain remains on course for a return to action in January. 

Wales open their NatWest 6 Nations campaign against Scotland on February 3. Warburton has not played so far this season after the recurrence of a long-standing neck injury meant an operation was deemed necessary.

“I had the operation six weeks ago now, and it is a four-month return to play, which is January,” he said.

“The rehab is going smoothly so far, so all good.

“I’ve had no hiccups so far. It was quite a straightforward operation. People hear the words ‘neck operation’ and they wave the red flag.

“It wasn’t as invasive as perhaps other neck operations where there are disc replacements or they do a stabilisation. It was in the neck, but it was through a nerve. I wasn’t too worried about it, and the operation went smoothly.”

Flanker Warburton, 29, has had a number of injuries and operations throughout his stellar playing career, but he added: “It is part of playing at seven. Seven and 12 are statistically the positions where you have the most contacts and most injuries. I quickly realised that — it is part of the nature of the position.”

Speaking at a launch of this year’s Lions’ New Zealand tour DVD — British & Irish Lions: Uncovered, Warburton also voiced his admiration for Wales’ performance in their autumn series opener against Australia two days ago.

Although Wales lost 29-21, a shift of tactical emphasis that saw them field two midfield playmakers, plus parading three Test debutants — Owen Watkin, Leon Brown and Sam Cross — made it an otherwise satisfactory evening.

“I was really pleased,” he said. “We had 12 line breaks in the game, which is an incredible amount to have. It was a great start.

“There were perhaps a few too many handlng errors, but I guess it is like changing your golf swing. You are not going to win the Masters straightaway, you are going to need a few more games and weeks to work on and tweak what you are doing.”

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