Tipuric: Training schedule is tough
Justin Tipuric believes that Wales' pre-World Cup training schedule is the toughest he has experienced in his rugby career.
Wales' punishing preparations for a so-called pool of death - they are in the same group as former World Cup winners England and Australia, with only two teams making the quarter-finals - have seen them visit Switzerland and Qatar for intensive training camps.
And after making a powerful statement with their fitness at the last World Cup four years ago - Wales reached a first semi-final since 1987 - head coach Warren Gatland has again overseen a demanding itinerary.
"The training has been harder than 2011," Ospreys flanker Tipuric said.
"I'm not going to lie, it's tough - the toughest training I have experienced, without a doubt.
"But it is what you expect. You are going to a World Cup and you don't expect it to be easy.
"We were fit in 2011 but you want to be fitter again, so you have to push it further. Qatar with the heat and Switzerland with the altitude are different kinds of things that we are not used to."
Wales open their three-Test World Cup warm-up programme against Millennium Stadium visitors Ireland next Saturday, when 31 times-capped Tipuric is expected to line up in a team that could see international bows for the likes of Ross Moriarty, Gareth Anscombe and Tyler Morgan.
Gatland has indicated that his current 40-plus training group could be whittled down to 36-38 next week - his final 31-man World Cup squad is set for an August 31 announcement - as the tournament countdown gathers pace.
Tipuric, who is widely expected to make the final cut, missed out in 2011 after playing in a warm-up fixture against Argentina, so he knows how high the stakes are.
"I was still quite young and Martyn (Williams) was still about and Andy Powell, Ryan Jones and people like that were still there," he said.
"I had just come through my first season and to make the training camp was something I didn't think would happen if you had asked me at the start of the campaign.
"To get there was something special, but when you are in the training squad you want to be part of the World Cup proper and it was a bit disappointing to miss out. Doing all the training over the past few weeks brought back how hard it all was.
"Watching the World Cup back home isn't great, but the whole experience is something I've learnt from.
"Playing in a World Cup is something everyone wants to do in their career, so to actually do it would be great.
"You want to be involved in a World Cup, you want to experience it and see what it's all about. Sometimes it doesn't happen, perhaps because of injuries or selections, but it's obviously a dream of a rugby player to play in a World Cup."