Sam Warburton: Young stars must dedicate lives to rugby

WATCH: Jordie Barrett's conversion from an impossible angle (0:10)

The All Blacks' Jordie Barrett showed off his impressive skills to convert a goal kick from a near impossible angle. (0:10)

British & Irish Lions and Wales star Sam Warburton has provided insight into the single-minded sacrifice that it takes to reach the top level in rugby.

Speaking at the launch of the Under-18 Six Nations Festival, that takes place in Caerphilly this week, Warburton urged those competing to dedicate their lives to the sport as they target a career at senior level.

"My main advice to anyone who seriously wants to become a professional rugby player is that it's got to become your lifestyle," he said.

"It's not just about four or five hours training, it is all about eating, sleeping and training properly and making the most of your recovery days. Many of these players are already role models at their schools and in their local communities -- to be a good professional you've got to get into good habits at a young age.

"I knew I had the athletic ability, although looking around my squads at the time I knew that wasn't going to be enough.

"I thought I had a stronger mindset than many of the other boys of my age, and I was determined not to let anything get in my way to make it to the top. When I progressed to Wales U19, I played with the likes of Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb and Jonathan Davies and it was quite clear even back then that those guys had a professional attitude and if you had to guess you'd have picked those as the ones who would go all the way."

Warburton, 29, who revealed captaincy did not come easy to him when he was initially given the armband with Wales at U18 level, is currently enjoying a sabbatical as he recovers from neck and knee surgeries.

His time on the sidelines denied him another meeting with France centre Mathieu Bastareaud during the Six Nations, who he first encountered a dozen years ago.

"We played France before that [2006 U18] Four Nations tournament and I came up against Mathieu Bastaraeud for the first time," Warburton said.

"I texted my twin brother, Ben, afterwards to say 'I've just played against the next Jonah Lomu'. He was the same size then as he is now and he ripped us apart!

"Whenever we play against each other now we always help each other up off the ground. We have a mutual respect knowing we've had a similar journey that began in 2006 at U18 level."