Lions and Wales skipper Sam Warburton will be at W H Smith in Swansea’s busy Quadrant Shopping Centre on Saturday to sign copies of his new book, Lions Triumphant: The Captain’s Story.
In it the 25-year-old golden boy of Welsh rugby admits for the first time that he turned down the Wales captaincy ahead of last season’s title decider against England.
Doubts about his form and whether he even deserved a place in the Wales side saw him tell interim coach Rob Howley that he didn’t want the job.
But the thumping victory that followed with Warburton and his rival for the openside spot, Ospreys star Justin Tipuric, both outstanding, reinvigorated the Cardiff Blues man and gave him the confidence to believe he could go on to be a successful Lions captain in Australia.
And he was as the Lions, under Wales coach Warren Gatland, took the series 2-1 and at the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards last weekend Warburton accepted the Team of the Year Trophy on behalf of the squad.
Alongside him that night was Gorseinon boy and fellow Cardiff Blue Leigh Halfpenny, runner-up to Wimbledon champion Andy Murray for the main prize but already with the Lions Man of the Series award safely tucked away.
In the book Warburton admits: “I was always a rather reluctant captain in the first place, but the problem during the early part of the Six Nations was that, with injuries not helping either, I was beginning to lose my confidence as a player.
“The truth is that I was not sure I deserved to be captain. I was not even sure I deserved to be in the side.
“So many people in Wales were saying that the in-form Justin Tipuric should be openside flanker that I think I started to believe them.
“I usually have so much self-belief, but all the comments saying I shouldn’t be playing for Wales got to me.
“In the last two matches of the autumn series against New Zealand and Australia, I thought I had played well.
“But people weren’t seeing that and the upshot was that all the pervading negativity was engulfing me, and I wasn’t taking the field with as much confidence as I should have been.
“Rob came to me and asked if I would be captain for the deciding game, because Ryan Jones, who had stood in as skipper against France, Italy and Scotland, was injured.
“I told him I did not want to do it, I just wanted to concentrate on my own game. I honestly felt that was best for everyone. It was certainly best for the team.
“I remember sitting there thinking when Rob offered it to me: “I could do this now. I could have on my CV two Six Nations championships as well as a World Cup semi-final, all as captain.” But I concluded: “I don’t want to do it just for that reason. It would be wrong.”
It all went right though as England were pasted 30-6 and Warburton adds: “So what changed so much that I could take on the Lions captaincy with such confidence and determination?
“The simple answer is the form I showed in those last two games against Scotland and England.
“I rediscovered my confidence and with it my entire outlook on rugby improved. I’d been in a rut, but those games had dragged me out of it.
“When I was first made Wales captain in 2011, I was rather reluctant and nervy.
“But now I was just so happy and so sure in my own mind that the Lions captaincy was a job I wanted to do and also one I knew I could do.
“I truly felt I was the right person to be captain of the Lions.
“There was not one shred of doubt. It was such a different feeling from when I was first asked to captain Wales, and also completely different from how I had felt just months earlier.”
Sam Warburton will be at W H Smith in the Quadrant Shopping Centre at 12 noon and W H Smith Manager Vic Barbieri said: “I’m sure it will be a very busy day and we’re delighted to have Sam coming to the store.
“The book just arrived here this week and it’s already selling well and Sam says he will be here for as long as people want him to carry on signing so we have ordered some extra copies.”