Young openside Justin Tipuric reported back for duty at the Ospreys Llandarcy HQ on Sunday after missing out on a place in the Welsh squad at the Rugby World Cup, and he says he's looking forward to getting back into action.
Having been called into Warren Gatland’s extended squad for the warm-up fixtures during August, Tipuric spent most of the month watching from the sidelines as he found his chances to shine limited to just a late appearance off the bench in the final game against Argentina. Now, having returned to the region, he is champing at the bit to get going:
“I’m really excited to be honest” he said.
“I woke up this morning and was looking forward to coming in and working with the boys again. I haven’t seen them for a while so it’s good to be back here and I can’t wait to pull on that jersey again and try and prove a point to everyone.
“I didn’t really expect to be involved over the summer so it was a nice bonus to be picked for the squad. I’m young and I just want to play rugby really. I’ve got a lot of friends here at the Ospreys and it’s just good to be able to play alongside them again, doing what I love doing.
“I don’t know if it’s the right words, but a positive I can take from not going to the World Cup is that I’ll be playing rugby in September. I’m still young, I want to be involved, but the truth is if I had been selected, with Sam being captain I wouldn’t have expected to get much game-time.
“I want to be playing, there’s nothing compares to it, and that’s the same with any team, whatever level you are playing at. Being here with the Ospreys hopefully I’ll play regularly during September, which will allow me to continue developing.”
2010/11 was Tipuric’s breakthrough season which saw him clocking up an impressive 27 Ospreys appearances during the campaign, taking former All Black Marty Holah’s starting berth and becoming the second youngest Ospreys captain ever. Now a full international and having been awarded the Player’s Player of the Year award back in May, the Trebanos youngster is no longer a surprise package for opponents but he insists he’ll be under no extra pressure:
“I don’t know about that! It’s just good to be back at Llandarcy. I’m going to keep my head down as always and just work hard on my game. The targets for the season are more team targets than anything, to do as well as we can for the Ospreys. I’ll keep on enjoying my rugby and keep on trying to improve as a player.”
The opening game of the new RaboDirect PRO12 season is just days away, with Leinster first up at the Liberty Stadium on Friday evening (KO 7.05pm), and Tipuric is hoping to be involved. With 14 Leinster players in Ireland’s World Cup squad, Tipuric has warned his Ospreys team-mates not to expect an easy ride:
“Leinster will always be difficult, wherever and whenever you play them. They will have a lot of players away but they’ve got a good Academy and there are some good boys ready to come in to play alongside some of the experienced players still in the squad who aren’t going to the World Cup.
“It’s the same with us, we’ve got a lot of young players around. We know what they can do, it’s a case now of them stepping up, putting on the jersey and showing everyone out there that they are good players.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for players to make a name for themselves. The best way to do that is as a team. If we can go out, play well as a team and get a good run of wins, then people will take notice of the Ospreys. They’ll see what players are involved and people will get recognition as part of a team that is doing well.”