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Justin Tipuric’s Incredible Stats Surely Put Him In Contention For Lions Test Shout

2017 British & Irish Lions Tour To New Zealand British & Irish Lions Captain's Run, FMG Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand 19/6/2017 Justin Tipuric

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.

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.

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.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 27: Justin Tipuric of the Lions is tackled by Vaea Fifita of the Hurricanes during the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour match between the Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at the Westpac Stadium on June 27, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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.

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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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.