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Captain Sam Warburton has revealed he tried to walk out on the Lions before the second test in Wellington two years ago, and was talked out of hit by his mum.
The highly respected Welsh flanker, now retired, said he was overwhelmed by emotional and physical pain as the match in Wellington approached, the All Blacks having won the opening encounter.
Reflecting on the drawn series in his just released book, the British and Irish captain also opened up about a touching moment with his rival captain Kieran Read during one of the series flashpoints.
And the two captains also discussed the possibility of forcing an overtime decider, book extracts in Wales Online reveal.
Warburton also names a handful of Lions players who he believes were the only ones who gave their absolute best on the six week tour under coach Warren Gatland.
But what really stands out is Warburton’s vivid description of what it is like to be a modern player in a sport which has become a human demolition derby.
“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 Openside, describing the days leading up to 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.
“I’ve had more than 20 injuries over my career. Before I go out to play these days, I have to neck pain tablets while the physios strap me up like an Egyptian mummy.
“I have to stand there butt naked in front of them, cupping my twig and berries, while they bind my knees, my ankles, my shoulders and my elbows.
“It’s not just tonight. It’s the relentless grind: week on week, month on month, year on year. Smash and be smashed. Try to recover. Smash and be smashed again.
“The equivalent of strapping myself into a car like a crash test dummy and driving it at a wall every weekend.
“I get out of bed. Shards of pain as my feet touch the floor. I push myself slowly upright, gritting my teeth as the aches flare and settle.
“If my body’s only at around 70 per cent fitness, my mind feels around half that. I’m exhausted, but also wired: antsy, yet craving rest. Yes, these are the small hours when everything seems worse, but even in broad da
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