Sam Warburton: Five teams in the Six Nations can all beat each other

Sam Warburton has played in more than 30 Six Nations games for Wales, including during the 2012 and 2013 championship wins

Wales and Lions flanker Sam Warburton believes this is the most competitive Six Nations Championship ever.

However, Warburton believes the final fixture between England and Ireland will decide who is crowned champion.

"If I had to bet, that will be the Championship game and you would have to go for home advantage," he said.

"This is the most competitive Six Nations ever. There are four teams, potentially France too, who could all beat each other, so it's wide open."

The two-times Lions' captain is one of several Welsh injuries for this year's Six Nations, including Jonathan Davies and Rhys Webb, who have both been ruled out of the whole tournament.

However, Warburton still believes Wales have a chance of stopping England becoming the first team to claim a hat-trick of Six Nations titles.

"There's a lot of pressure to be the first team to win three in a row. I underestimated in 2012 how hard it is to win a Six Nations and particularly a Grand Slam. I can't see anyone winning a Grand Slam this season but if England were to win three (titles), that would be a fantastic feat," he said.

"But someone could have a big upset in the first two weeks and then suddenly the tournament is wide open for Scotland, Wales or Ireland. It is so difficult to call."

Patchell a 'gifted' player

Warburton tackles Patchell
Warburton and Patchell played together at the Blues before the fly-half joined the Scarlets in 2016

Wales' lengthy injury list will give some of the squad's less-exposed players a chance to shine on the big stage.

One such player is Warburton's former teammate Rhys Patchell, who has won just five Wales caps since his debut in 2013.

Patchell will start in Wales' opening match against Scotland alongside Scarlets teammate Gareth Davies, and Warburton is confident the 24-year-old will deliver.

"He is good at 10 or 15 and I think that is why he is a good selection," said Warburton.

"Whether they will use him at 15 and bring Gareth Anscombe on at 10, I'm not too sure, but he is fantastic at both.

"Attacking wise he is one of the most gifted players I have ever played with. He is one of those players who can be running full pelt and deliver a superb pass and that is a difficult skill to do.

"His handling skills are brilliant."