Turnbull: Wales back row battle will be brutal

First published in Wales rugby

FLANKER Josh Turnbull expects a battle royal in Swansea tomorrow evening as the back-rowers attempt to book their places on the plane to South Africa, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Cardiff Blues-bound forward will line up on the blindside for the Probables against the Possibles in the trial at the Liberty Stadium (kick-off 7.05pm).

Places in the 31-man squad are up for grabs because of injuries to opensides Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric along with the unavailability of Bristol back rower Ryan Jones.

Lions Taulupe Faletau and Dan Lydiate, who is struggling with a hamstring strain, are certain tourists while Dan Baker is likely to travel as the former’s understudy.

But the rest of them are scrapping it out with Faletau joined in the Probables squad by Turnbull, Aaron Shingler, Lewis Evans and Josh Navidi while Baker slots in along with Andrew Coombs, Ellis Jenkins, Macauley Cook and James Davies.

Turnbull said: “The calibre of players involved in those two squads is high and even people like Sam Lewis, who has had a really good season for the Ospreys, have missed out.

“It’s going to be physical and that will be the case throughout the packs; they are both strong and won’t take a backward step.

“I know Smiler (Possibles captain and hooker Matthew Rees) will wind them up and they will probably want to rip our heads off!

“They will feel they have a point to prove but so do I – I have been moved from the Possibles to the Probables but I still don’t feel my place is guaranteed, I need to put in a big performance.”

The two squads have been training in regional kit at the Vale of Glamorgan headquarters, meaning that Turnbull is in Scarlets clothing for the last time before becoming a Blue on June 1.

But the 26-year-old is desperate to put the three feathers back on after a frustrating few years. The most recent of his seven caps came against Argentina in 2012 and last summer he missed the tour to Japan because of surgery on both shoulders.

“I’ve played in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,” he said. “South Africa’s one that is missing and fingers crossed that the trial goes well.”

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