Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Tipuric ready to fight for spot

Justin Tipuric, pictured, and Sam Warburton are Warren Gatland's options at openside flanker
Justin Tipuric, pictured, and Sam Warburton are Warren Gatland's options at openside flanker

Justin Tipuric hopes Sam Warburton's selection as British and Irish Lions captain will not harm his chances of earning a Test spot against Australia.

The Wales flankers are the two specialist number sevens in Warren Gatland's squad for the tour of Hong Kong and Australia. Gatland's choice of Warburton as skipper would suggest the Cardiff Blues man is likely to start the three Test matches, therefore limiting Tipuric's own aspirations.

But Tipuric expects form on tour to determine who will feature in the Tests. He said: "It's never nice with the captain in your position but I've had it for the last few years with Wales now. You've just got to keep enjoying your rugby and keep working hard and training hard more than anything. A lot of it is down to form and the game plan the coaches want to follow."

Tipuric added: "If you look at the strength of the back-row, everyone's such a good player, it's unbelievable and it's quite an honour more than anything to be involved because of the quality of the players."

The Ospreys openside was preferred to Warburton in the number seven shirt as he turned in a man-of-the-match display in Wales' 30-3 Six Nations victory over England.

Warburton played at number six on that occasion, but there is plenty of competition for the blindside role with Tom Croft, Sean O'Brien and Dan Lydiate also available, and he is far more likely to be considered solely as a number seven.

Australia have their own selection dilemma at number seven after David Pocock was ruled out of the series with a knee injury. That leaves the trio of Michael Hooper, Liam Gill and veteran George Smith to choose from for Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans, although Smith looks set to miss the first Test with his own knee injury.

But Tipuric is well aware that whoever takes the openside role for the Wallabies will be a challenging opponent.

"They're all top players," he said. "Australia have unbelievable talent - if you're a number seven coming through the ranks out there you have to be one hell of a player to get into the Test side. Whoever you play against, you know the standard is going to be high. If you look at the four sevens they've got, it's unbelievable how much talent they've got.

"George Smith has been in unbelievable form for the Brumbies again and you look at the youngsters they've got coming through in Gill and Hooper, it's going to be tough opposition whoever you play against."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre