Sam Warburton On How Nearly Walked Out On The Lions Ahead Of Famous All Blacks Win

Battered and bruised.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has revealed he thought about walking out on the Lions ahead of their famous Test win over the All Blacks back in 2017 only for his mum to talk him out of it.

In a stunning admission in his new book Open side, Warburton gives a harrowing description of just how hard it is to be a professional rugby player at the highest level and the devastating effect it has on the body.

“Can’t sleep. The witching hour. The darkness comes flooding in, and it’s all I can do to stop it drowning me,” Warburton writes in Open Side, days before the second test.

Everything hurts. My body, my mind, my heart. Everything. I’m a wreck.

It’s easier to list the parts of me that aren’t in pain. My eyelashes. That’s pretty much it.

Two in the morning, and no-one to talk to,”

I need to talk to someone. There are several people I could call, but there’s only one person I know will really understand. I dial her number.

‘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.”

Thankfully his mother managed to calm him down and of course, he didn’t leave. Instead, he went on to play a key role as the Lions defeated the All Blacks in Wellington before going on to draw the series in Auckland.

But just one month later, at the age of 29, Warburton retired from the game because his body simply could no go on. When you look at the history of injuries the flanker picked up throughout his career – it’s easy to see why.

Book extract via WalesOnline.