Wales legend adds weight to calls for Tipuric to start
FRANCE v WALES (Saturday, KO 5pm)
FORMER Wales openside flanker and captain Terry Cobner has backed Justin Tipuric to be given his country’s No 7 shirt ahead of skipper Sam Warburton.
And the Pontypool great and ex-Welsh Rugby Union director of rugby also dismissed the idea Wales should start with them both in the back row.
Former Lions star Cobner, who won two Grand Slams after winning 19 caps between 1974 and 1978, is a big fan of both.
But he admitted he would start with Osprey Tipuric on current form.
“When I was manager of Wales Under-18s we had had both Sam and Tips with us then,” he said.
“I have an affection for them both but if I had to be objective, I see Tips as the main contender.”
Cobner said Cardiff Blue Warburton has been given a distinct advantage because he has been selected as Wales’ Six Nations leader.
But he outlined the skipper’s need to start putting in some big performances.
“They’ve picked Sam as captain of the squad which means his position is secure but I think he has really got to up his game because Tips is on fire,” he added.
“I wouldn’t subscribe to starting them both, the running lines are different, you can’t get into the rhythm of the game and I always like big sixes who can carry the ball, get over the gainline and I wouldn’t like two similar wing forwards to be honest.”
Warburton’s place has been under scrutiny for some time.
His patchy display in his team’s 30-22 defeat to Ireland in last Saturday’s opening Six Nations match did little to satisfy his critics.
One of Wales’ outstanding players during the successful 2011 World Cup campaign, his stock has fallen dramatically since.
Warburton hasn’t been the same player since being controversially sent off by Irish referee Alain Rolland in the unlucky 9-8 defeat to France in the semi-final for a tip tackle on wing Vincent Clerc.
A succession of injuries may have contributed to his alarming dip in form over the last 12 months which has seen him go from Lions captain in waiting to a potential second choice openside for his country.
Tipuric’s star seems to be on the rise and there is a clamour for the superior link man to be given his chance after waiting in the wings for two years, having to be content with the occasional, but often scene-stealing, cameo.