Sam Warburton picks out Shingler as Wales’ star man

Aaron Shingler on his way to scoring a try 24/2/2018
Wales legend Sam Warburton has named NatWest 6 Nations star Aaron Shingler as his Welsh player of the season.

Wales legend Sam Warburton has named NatWest 6 Nations star Aaron Shingler as his Welsh player of the season.

The British and Irish Lion, 29, couldn’t play during the tournament due to a knee injury that required surgery, but featured as a pundit for many of Wales’ fixtures.

And Warburton revealed the man who impressed him most during the NatWest 6 Nations in the red of Wales was second row Aaron Shingler.

“My Welsh player of the season would have to be Aaron Shingler for the impact he’s had,” said Warburton, who has 74 caps for his country.

“He’s always been a top player around the set up but it’s just small things.

“Everyone knows he’s great with his athleticism and has got speed but what he’s been really good at is just being aggressive and a nuisance at the breakdown, doing what top-class back-rowers should do but a lot don’t.

“He’s off-loading much more than I think he did in the early days of his career. Perhaps the Scarlets’ philosophy has brought that out.

“You could pick up to nine back-rowers who could play for Wales but it’s picking the best players who can complement each other or for the tactics for a particular game. It’s about balance.

“He compliments the guys he played with really well, when you have got guys like Toby Faletau and Josh Navidi, who can perhaps do a little bit more ball-carrying or stuff on the floor with Shingler a go-to line-out man.

“I just thought the combinations worked really well and he fitted in there nicely.”

Not only did Shingler catch Warburton’s eye this season, but British & Irish Lion also tipped his fellow Cardiff Blues teammate Owen Lane for a bright future considering the season he has had.

“I really like Owen Lane, considering where he’s come from,” added the flanker.

“Probably, in pre-season, he didn’t think he was going to be getting many games.

“Kids come through the academy system and, yes, they’ve got nice skills and a good professional attitude but sometimes you look at them athletically and think physically they might make regional but not international level.

“But I think Owen has got the athleticism and physicality to play international rugby in time. To be his age, as confident and physically aggressive as he is, he’s had a great start so far.

“I think he’s been Blues and Wales’ most promising player.”