With the back row a major talking point ahead of the Lions’ second Test against the All Blacks this weekend, should Justin Tipuric be getting more of a mention?
The Ospreys openside has started three matches so far on the Lions tour, and come on as a replacement in two more, but was not selected by Warren Gatland for last weekend’s 30-15 opening Test defeat at the hands of New Zealand.
With Sam Warburton reportedly being primed for a return to the starting XV for this weekend’s clash having been a replacement in the first, competition for places is already tough between the Welshman and the Irish duo of Sean O’Brien and last week’s captain Peter O’Mahony.
That said, Tipuric’s stats in Tuesday’s 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes should at least make him part of the conversation. The 27-year-old’s tackling ability was particularly impressive in the Wellington stalemate.
Twenty-four tackles from Justin Tipuric this morning against the Hurricanes.
Not one missed.
Takes his tour tally to 59 tackles from 59.
— Gareth Davies (@GD10) June 27, 2017
Coupled with his impressive tackling stats in the 2013 tour (in which his Test involvement was limited to 25 minutes in the third clash with Australia) then it adds fuel to the fire of growing calls for Tipuric to be at least in the 23 for this weekend.
And that’s on top of the 49 from 49 he made on the 2013 tour to Australia.
Justin Tipuric has never missed a tackle for the Lions.
— Gareth Davies (@GD10) June 28, 2017
The argument for Tipuric being included is definitely becoming louder, and it is not one that it is without merit. His natural all-round game, powerhouse of an engine to keep going for the full 80 minutes and status as the only natural openside in the squad, could arguably be of greater benefit to Gatland and the Lions this weekend rather than praying on the possibility that Warburton will pull a supreme performance out of the hat.
The fact that he played all 80 minutes against the Hurricanes will almost certainly count against him when it comes to the selection of the starting XV for Saturday, but in no way should that rob him of at least a place on the bench.
Indeed, it will arguably still take a strong showing from the tour captain (and whichever of O’Mahony and O’Brien partners him) on Saturday to lower the dissenting voices against his starting ahead of his international teammate.
— Conor Nolan (@ConorN11) June 28, 2017
Justin Tipuric going to be one of those Lions who doesn’t get credit he deserves whose talents are never quite fully utilised-Clive Woodward
— Robin Davey (@robindavey01) June 28, 2017
Massively undervalued imho. Great tackler and link man with backs. Amazing rugby brain. In 15 with hardcore backroad backup
— David Burke (@DavidMBurke) June 27, 2017
All will be revealed when Gatland announces the 23-man panel to try to level the series this weekend, but if Tipuric is not in the coach’s thinking right now, then perhaps he should be.
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