Alun Wyn Jones has backed his Ospreys team-mate Justin Tipuric to become a fully fledged Wales international.
Tipuric is one of just two un-capped players in Wales’ 35-man Rugby World Cup training squad currently being put through their paces on their second rugby, skills and conditioning camp in Spala, Poland.
But Jones believes it is only a matter of time before the specialist openside flanker breaks through to make his international debut.
“I know I’m biased because of the Ospreys connection, but I’ve seen a lot of ‘Tips’ and he is definitely something special,” said the 49-times capped Ospreys captain.
“He’s got all the attributes and a rugby brain beyond his years. He has a big future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see him in a Wales shirt.”
Tipuric himself captained the Ospreys several times last season in Jones’ absence, and has also led the national side at under-20 level.
A try-hero at the Junior World Championship in Japan in 2009, he finished that tournament as the second top try scorer with six touchdowns, beaten only by New Zealand wing Zac Guildford with eight, as Wales finished the competition in 6th place.
He was also an ever-present on the Wales sevens circuit in the 2009 / 2010 season alongside fellow un-capped squad-mate, Blues scrum half Lloyd Williams, but he is now focusing on making the senior squads for Wales’ RWC warm-up fixtures against England (twice) and Argentina, starting at Twickenham next week.
“It’s special being here with Wales and I’m loving the training, but a cap would just top it all off,” said Tipuric speaking on the penultimate day of Wales’ visit to the Olympic training venue in Spala.
“I’m training alongside a Welsh legend in Martyn (Williams), but you have to put that out of your mind.
“The whole back row do everything together, from all the fitness testing to when you get out on the training pitch, so it is extremely competitive.
“I’ve looked up to him in the past, but things are so competitive at this level, that you can’t afford to think in those terms.
“It’s a similar experience to the one at the Ospreys, of trying to break through when the players you are training with are the ones you were watching and supporting from the stands.
“Marty Holah is another player with a huge reputation that could intimidate you as a youngster coming through if you let it, but you just have to put that kind of thing out of your mind and get stuck in.
“I’m just a boy who plays rugby and wants to wear that Wales jersey and I’ve got to push my way through if I get the chance. I’ve just got to try to be the best that I can be.”
Another senior player on the pre-RWC training camp, with plenty of leadership experience at both regional and international level himself, 2008 Grand Slam captain Ryan Jones, is also looking forward to the moment Tipuric realises his international potential.
“Justin has had a good amount of game-time at the Ospreys and everyone has been impressed with him,” Ryan said.
“He is an out and out seven, he plays with that innate ability to read the game, he knows all about the dark arts of that position and he is great athlete to boot.
“He is going to be a huge asset for the Ospreys and I can’t wait to see how he goes for Wales.
“He is one of the new breed of professional rugby players who has been coached through the levels and is now ready to step up.
“There are obviously different things to consider at the top level, but it is going to be interesting to watch him make the step up, as there is no doubting his ability.”