Autumn Internationals: Tipuric hails Wales' 'crazy' competition

Justin Tipuric in action during Wales' victory over Scotland
Justin Tipuric in action during Wales' victory over Scotland

Justin Tipuric can see no let-up in what he describes as the "crazy" competition for Wales back-row places.

Wales' revered back-row strength is underlined by twice British and Irish Lions tourist Tipuric winning just over half of his 58 caps as a substitute.

And even though retired former Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton is no longer part of the selection mix, head coach Warren Gatland remains spoilt for choice.

Wales' likely starting back-row against Australia on Saturday - Tipuric, Dan Lydiate and Ross Moriarty - are all Lions.

Injuries, meanwhile, have currently sidelined a fourth Lion in Taulupe Faletau, plus three of last season's outstanding Wales performers in Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler and James Davies.

And when players such as Ellis Jenkins, who skippered Wales to victory against South Africa earlier this year, young Dragons prospect Aaron Wainwright, plus Thomas Young and Ollie Griffiths - the latter pair did not make Gatland's autumn Test squad - are added, then the cupboard is close to bursting point.

Even 10 months out from the World Cup, back-row looks set to be the most debated area in selection before Gatland settles on his final group for Japan.


Wales fixtures

  • November 3: Scotland - won 21-10
  • November 10: Australia
  • November 17: Tonga
  • November 24: South Africa

"I've said for a number of years that the competition in the back-row is crazy," Ospreys flanker Tipuric told Press Association Sport.

"Everyone seems to want to be a back-row forward these days! It is a position that is very strong for Wales.

"There are three or four choices in every position throughout the squad now, and there is more competition coming through again - it's not like it is drying up or anything. Welsh rugby is in a good place."

Tipuric is set to make his 29th Wales start this weekend, and his battle with Australia's significant twin breakdown threat of Michael Hooper and David Pocock should go some way towards deciding the outcome.

And a Wales victory would be timely, given that they have not achieved it against Australia for 10 years and 13 Tests, while it is also the countries' final meeting before a key World Cup pool clash next September.

Tipuric has encountered Hooper and Pocock on several occasions, and respect is mutual.

"There are two of the best sevens in the world playing in the same pack, so you are going to be in a tough game," Tipuric added.

"They are quality opposition, two of Australia's best players, without doubt."

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