Belfast Telegraph

Justin Tipuric is tipped for Groundhog Day

By Conor George

Justin Tipuric's reputation as a more conventional 'groundhog' is expected to see him replace the injured Sam Warburton in the Lions' team to play Australia in Saturday's third and deciding Test match in Sydney.

Tipuric will see off the challenge of Ireland's Sean O'Brien for the role with O'Brien likely to have to content himself with a place on the bench again.

O'Brien offers cover across all three back-row positions and is seen by Lions' management as the ideal impact replacement.

Tipuric is more like Australia's open-side flanker Mike Hooper. He will not be expected to carry a lot of ball but will try to be as close to the ball as possible at all times and will work feverishly to win and turnover possession at the breakdown.

Ironically the Lions have lost Warburton to injury after his best game on Tour.

The captain was excellent in Saturday's second Test before having to depart with a torn hamstring.

His injury was confirmed yesterday and he has been ruled out of the deciding game. He will, however, remain with the squad for the final week.

Tipuric and O'Brien had been the in-form flankers in the lead-up to the opening Test match and coach Warren Gatland's perseverance with Warburton drew some criticism.

Now Tipuric will be expected to take over as the chief breakdown expert.

Tipuric learned his trade from New Zealand flanker Marty Holah, who is regarded as one of the best open-side flankers, when they were both as Ospreys and will make life very difficult for the Australians at the breakdown.

The Lions' players had a day off yesterday and resume training at their Noosa base today before flying to Sydney on Thursday ahead of Saturday's final Test.

Belfast Telegraph


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