Tipuric out to press All Blacks claims
Justin Tipuric has been handed a golden opportunity that could result in him piling pressure on Wales captain Sam Warburton.
The 23-year-old Ospreys flanker starts against Samoa at the Millennium Stadium, with Warburton dropping to the bench. As things stand, it would be a major surprise if Wales' World Cup and Six Nations skipper last term does not reclaim the openside role when New Zealand arrive in Cardiff next week.
But if Tipuric delivers an outstanding display and Wales perform impressively, it could make life interesting for interim boss Rob Howley and his coaching staff in selection. "Sam is a quality player and it is hard to win the seven jersey," Tipuric said ahead of only his third Wales start.
"I just have to do my job for the team. If the team plays well, I am doing my job. It is nice to start a game. It is hard when your position is the same as the captain's. We get on well together and it is a matter of pushing each other hard.
"No-one is thinking about the last two games of this autumn series against New Zealand and Australia, just about winning against Samoa."
Howley has made eight changes from the side beaten 26-12 by Argentina last weekend, with Warburton, fly-half Rhys Priestland and prop Gethin Jenkins among those on the bench.
It means the likes of Tipuric, fly-half Dan Biggar, centre Ashley Beck, hooker Richard Hibbard and lock Bradley Davies could all press claims for the All Blacks clash.
"As Ryan Jones said, every player who pulls on the jersey against Samoa has a great opportunity to start against the All Blacks," Howley said. "It is an exciting selection, but there will be a side out there trying to stop us.
"Samoa will bring an uncompromising, physical approach. Look at the collisions in the World Cup game against them last year, and they put us under pressure in the set-pieces. They have some great players and most of them are based in England and France. When we get the ball we must make sure we keep it. We have to play smart.
"There has been a lot of straight talking between the coaches and players. We are under pressure and we will come out fighting. I am sure you will see a performance that every supporter will be proud of in Wales."