Warburton ready to return
Wales captain Sam Warburton has declared himself fully fit and raring to go ahead of the three-Test tour of Australia.
The 23-year-old flanker has not played since injuring a nerve in his shoulder as Wales clinched the Six Nations Grand Slam against France in Cardiff in mid-March.
The Cardiff Blues' back-rower went to see a specialist in London, and was considered a doubt to lead his country as Wales seek a first Test win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1969.
But Warburton has made good progress in recent weeks and has retained the captaincy in the tour party named by caretaker head coach Rob Howley, as head coach Warren Gatland recovers from the heel injuries he suffered in a fall at his holiday home in New Zealand.
And while Warburton will return to see his specialist later this month to be given the all-clear, he says he will be ready for the first Test in Brisbane on June 9, despite an injury lay-off of almost four months.
When asked if he was back to 100 per cent fitness, the 27-cap openside said: "Yes, I feel good. Earlier this week I did a session with some upper body circuits, and I did some contact pad work and have had no issues so far. The physios and I are very happy.
"I am waiting for an appointment to see (specialist) Michael Fox in London but that is just a final check-up.
"The physios said they will judge it on how I feel functionally when I am training, so if I am happy with it and I can take part in contact with no pain then happy days.
"We covered some contact today and I had no qualms about it."
The shoulder problem ended a frustrating Six Nations for Warburton, with additional leg and knee problems limiting the skipper to just 160 minutes of action from a possible 400 during the tournament.
But the talismanic forward says the break has left him refreshed as he approaches the end of an arduous season that included the prolonged build-up to the World Cup in New Zealand.
"I was over the moon with the Grand Slam but disappointed with the amount of game time I had," he said.
"I would normally have to have a coach drag me off the field but with the injuries I had there was no way I could play on.
"Before that I had had a run of 14 or 15 Tests for Wales without picking up any injuries, that spell was always going to come to an end so maybe my body was telling me the games were taking their toll.
"I have had a few cortisone injections through the season to keep me going.
"We sat down with the physios and conditioners and they said this was a good chance to make sure my knee and shoulder problems go away and now I can fully take part in all sorts of training, so maybe it was a bit of a blessing.
"I feel nice and fresh. I may be a bit short of match fitness which might tell in the last 10 minutes, but with 14 other super-fit guys on the field hopefully it won't be too much of an issue."
Wales, who will play the Barbarians in Cardiff on June 2 ahead of their series in Australia, have a wretched recent record against the trio of southern hemisphere superpowers, claiming just one win from their last 16 meetings.
The Welsh players and management know that record has to change if they want to be considered one of the best sides in the world, and Warburton says winning the series against Robbie Deans' side is critical.
"We would like to win all of the Tests," he said.
"Before every competition you set out to win every game and that's what we will try and do.
"Things don't go to plan all the time but a series win has to be the target.
"To win one game and lose the other two would be a disappointment, so to win the series is a must I think."