It’s nothing personal – Justin Tipuric on his duel for the No7 jersey
FRANCE v WALES (Tomorrow, KO 5pm)
WALES openside Justin Tipuric has denied that he will be motivated by striking a blow in his personal duel with Sam Warburton when he runs out with 7 on his back in Paris.
The Ospreys flanker will start against France in the Six Nations tomorrow evening after the captain suffered a shoulder injury in the crushing defeat to Ireland last weekend.
There has been a clamour for Tipuric to get the nod ahead of off-colour Warburton, who was tipped to move to the blindside if fit.
The debate has been fierce since the autumn series about who should be thrown the seven jersey, with the coaches loath to drop their skipper.
But Tipuric, 23, insists there is no extra pressure to make his chance count while his rival is sidelined.
“It’s not about me trying to displace Sam, it’s all about getting this win for the team,” he said.
“If we do that and I have done my role then I will be happy.
“But even if I go well against France I won’t necessarily expect to keep my place against Italy, that’s looking too far down the line. I never expect to start – you have to work on it.
“Sam being captain does make it tougher to get a start, any captain is established in the side and difficult to push out. But you just have to concentrate on your own game and work on what you need to improve on. And then when you get a chance and are on that field you just have to do your own job.”
Standing in the way of presenting his coaches with a real selection headache is an imposing French back row of former world player of the year Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles and Fulgence Ouedraogo.
“It’s going to be a tough test, they are all very good players,” said Tipuric.
“Dusautoir is back to his best and hasn’t won all of those awards for no reason while Picamoles is a beast of a man and not an easy guy to stop.
“It’s going to be a big battle and they will come flying out of the blocks, but everyone is looking forward to the challenge, we just want to get out there and play now.”