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'People Don't Think Of That Stuff. That's The Bit People Don't Tell You About'

'People Don't Think Of That Stuff. That's The Bit People Don't Tell You About'
By PJ Browne Updated

The fact that he was retiring from rugby didn't really hit home for Sam Warburton until he walked into the Cardiff Blues dressing room to clear out the locker.

"I got the black bin liner, got my boots, the wet top and then you leave your slot and your name is still in the changing room," the former Wales international told BT Sport's Rugby Tonight.

He then had to tell his teammates the reasons for his calling time on his career.

"At all clubs you have WhatsApp groups with the boys. So you say, 'Boys, I'm obviously going to leave the WhatsApp group now'. I left the WhatsApp group and I haven't got a hundred silly messages coming in a day from all the boys with the Blues.

"People don't think of that stuff. That's the bit people don't tell you about. You've been immersed with the boys for so long and then you're out of that."

The 29-year-old retired last month after failing to recover sufficiently from neck and knee surgeries. His last game had been a year earlier in the final test between the Lions and the All Blacks.

Only two fellow players knew about his retirement plans prior to the announcement.

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"I didn't want to make a big song and dance about it," said Warburton.

I came home from training one day and I knew I had to tell my wife what I was thinking. The six months prior to that I was adamant that I was coming back and I wanted to play for the Blues, World Cup.

I knew deep down that was it.

They said they'd announce it on the Wednesday at 12 o'clock. That was perfect because I had a family wedding and I was off to Italy at one o'clock.

Even at [airport] security - it had only been out for five or ten minutes - people were coming up to me offering congratulations or apologies. Then I'm on the big screen at Heathrow and I was like, 'Oh my goodness'.

Ideally, Warburton would like to have won one more big trophy and play at one more World Cup. It was not to be. The Lions drawing last summer's series with the All Blacks was his swan song.

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"I've always said that if you look at the top players in the world - you look at Brian O'Driscoll - they've been at the top for so long; multiple Lions tours, multiple World Cups and they keep churning out performances - I've always wanted to be that person.

"There was a time where I just had to wake up and smell the coffee and realise I wasn't going to get my body back to the physical condition I needed to get it to.

"My game, I'm not blessed with handling skills. My game is being physical and if I can't get back to that peak, that's just not me. I realised I couldn't get back there because of my knees and my neck.

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"I just thought I'd rather go out on the back of what was perceived as a successful Lions tour with my body intact. I want to be an active dad, an active grandad, you just need to look at the bigger picture."

You can watch Sam Warburton's interview with BT Sport's Rugby Tonight below.

See Also: Retiring Wayne Barnes Cites Donnacha Ryan For Class Post-Final Gesture

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