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Warburton is up there with Pocock and McCaw, warns O'Callaghan

DOC highlights the “massive threat” posed by the Welsh openside ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

He can score too: Warburton goes over for a try against Fiji.
He can score too: Warburton goes over for a try against Fiji.
Image: Dita Alangkara/AP/Press Association Images

IRELAND MAY HAVE dodged a bullet when injury prevented Australia’s David Pocock from lining out against them in the pool stages, but Donncha O’Callaghan believes they’ll face a young talent who is every bit as good this Saturday.

Just 22 years old, Welsh captain Sam Warburton has been one of the undisputed stars of the tournament so far, leading an in-form side from the front by dominating at the breakdown.

Irish fans will be hoping that the Dragons star will be rattled in Wellington by their own star combo of Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien. But, as O’Callaghan warned yesterday, it won’t be easy.

Warburton has been incredible in setting such a massively high standard,” the Munster man said from Ireland’s training camp.

The way he’s going in this tournament, you would put him up there for a World XV. He’s up there with [Richie] McCaw and David Pocock when it comes to stealing your ball.

Ireland go into Saturday’s clash as slight favourites, but there is a definite sense in the camp that the team which can eke out any sort of advantage in the contact areas will come out on top.

“We will have to do a lot of work on [Warburton's] game and beat him at the breakdown,” O’Callaghan said.

If you get dominance at the breakdown, you’ll probably come out on the right side of the scoreboard. In that respect, Warburton’s top class.

Read more of O’Callaghan’s pre-match comments here >

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Niall Kelly

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