| 9.6°C Belfast

Tipuric will push Warburton for Test spot

Justin Tipuric hopes Sam Warburton's selection as British & Irish Lions captain will not harm his own 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 aspirations.

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 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.

Tipuric expects form on tour to determine who will start 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."

Australia certainly have their own selection dilemma at number seven after David Pocock was ruled out of the series with a knee injury.

That leaves the top 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.

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 and you look at the youngsters they've got coming through in Gill and Hooper, it'll be tough whoever you play against."

Belfast Telegraph