Former British & Irish Lions and Wales captain Sam Warburton has revealed that a phone call to his mom stopped him from quitting the team during their the 2017 tour to New Zealand.
The former flanker said he was overwhelmed by emotional and physical pain ahead of the second test in Wellington after the All Blacks won the first test of the series.
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In an extract from his soon-to-be-released book 'Open Side', published by Wales Online, Warburton says he came close to walking out on the eve of the second test against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Warburton says he was in an emotional and physical state and had planned to leave New Zealand and fly back to the UK, without telling anybody.
However, before he executed his plan, he spoke to his mum, who talked him out of his radical idea.
EXCLUSIVE book extract: Sam Warburton says only 20% of the 2017 Lions squad did all they could to beat New Zealand https://t.co/8SVSFdYEnk— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) September 11, 2019
"Why am I putting myself through all this pain - all this pressure - when I could be doing something – anything – else?" Warburton wrote. "Why am I in a job which, right now, I detest?
"Before I go out to play these days, I have to take 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.
"I pull back the curtains and look out. Below me is the Wellington waterfront.
"It's quiet and empty, but earlier this evening, it was packed, as it will be tomorrow night. Many will be wearing red rugby shirts and will have saved up for years to come all the way across the world, just to watch us play.
"Round and round and round. Physical stress, mental stress and emotional stress, all working on and off each other.
"Two in the morning and no-one to talk to.
"I need to talk to someone. There are several people I could call, but there's only one person I know will really understand.
"I dial her number. 'Sam?'
"Her voice is full of concern. It's lunchtime back home in Cardiff.
"She knows what time it is where I am and that I wouldn't be phoning for no reason.
"'I've had enough, Mum.' My throat is tight with the effort of not bursting into tears.
"'I really have. I'm just going to go.'
"'To the airport. Do a bunk, leave all my kit here, get on the first plane home.
"I'll be in the air before they realise I've gone.'
"She was right, of course. She knew the way love for - and hatred of - rugby oscillated within me, because they did for her too.
Warburton went on to play in the second test, captaining the team to a 24-21 win, before the teams played out a 15-15 draw - and drawn series - a week later.