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Williams praises Warburton

Guinness PRO12 Editor

6 May 2011

Martyn Williams has paid tribute to the man that succeeded him in the number seven shirt for both region and country.

Sam Warburton has enjoyed a memorable season and emerged out of the shadows of Williams to establish himself as one of Cardiff Blues' and Wales' most important players.
His impressive season has seen him handed two prestigious awards this week.
First he was named in the Magners League Dream Team which was picked from a panel of leading pundits from across the four participating nations. Then he was named Player of the Year by the Welsh Rugby Writers Association.
But Williams insists there is plenty more to come from the physical flanker.
"It’s been great to see the impact Sam's had," said Williams.
"He's taken to the international scene like a duck to water, not only in this RBS 6 Nations, but in the autumn as well.
"With some players, you might be a little bit concerned it will go to their heads or they will go into the comfort zone.
"But that's not Sam. He works as hard as anybody, not only at the physical side of it, but the technical and analysis side as well.
"You can’t speak highly enough of him. It’s quite frightening to think he’s just learning the game and how good he is."
Test veteran Williams has played a major role in developing Warburton. The 22-year-old could not have asked for a better mentor than the British & Irish flanker, who has racked up 98 caps and 73 Magners League appearances.
And Williams admits he always knew Warburton had the potential to establish himself a Welsh regular.
"We’ve always known how good Sam was going to be," added Williams.
"For the last four or five years, we've seen him coming through and he’s a special player and a special talent.
"You only have to see him in the gym. His test results are phenomenal.
"But, even though physically he’s a specimen, what sets him apart, like any top player, is his top two inches.
"He’s very grounded. However much praise he gets, he’s always willing to learn and that’s what sets him apart.
"He could easily be Wales captain in the near future because he’s such an intelligent bloke and that’s the difference between your average player and someone like Sam.
"It’s scary how good he can be."