After replacing Filo Tiatia off the bench in the closing stages of last week's LV= Cup defeat against Northampton Saints, 20 year-old Justin Tipuric will become the latest Academy graduate to step up into the starting line-up when the Ospreys face Bath on Saturday.
The versatile back rower, who has been playing for Aberavon in the Welsh Premiership, says that his unexpected call into the senior side last week was a great experience, and he is keen to make a good impression in his first start for the region. He said:
“I’m chuffed to bits with it to be honest. It was a little bit unexpected last week, as I wasn’t involved with the squad at the start of the week. To get the call to train with the seniors and then to be told I was starting on the bench against Northampton was great stuff. To then actually get on for the last 10 minutes was something else, it was something that I’ll never forget.
“It was a great experience, especially being up against a good seven in Scott Gray who has played international rugby with Scotland. To be able to test myself at that level, against a good player was incredible, now I want to get more of the same under my belt. The coaches were happy with me, that’s the main thing! With so many players unavailable at the moment it means that younger players are getting their chance, but you’ve got to make sure you take your chance when it comes. Hopefully I can push on this weekend against Bath, and maybe have a positive impact on the game.
“Unlike last week, I’ve spent this week working with the seniors so hopefully I’m going to be more up to speed with things on Saturday and I’m really looking forward to be involved. It’s another big game for the Ospreys, and it’s a big day for me, my first start, so hopefully I will be able to help us get the right result. It’s just great to be involved, to start to get my face recognised in the squad each day, and I’m hoping that I can get more chances to work with the first team squad and some of the great back row players we’ve got here.”
Tipuric captained the Wales U20 squad at the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship in Japan during the summer, finishing as the competition’s second top try scorer with six in five games, and his involvement in the Ospreys senior team recently has rounded off an excellent year for the youngster from Trebanos. Andrew Millward, Regional Performance Development Manager at the Ospreys, says the recognition is a just reward for the efforts that Tipuric has put in over the last two years or so:
“He’s a very good reader of the game, with a natural ability to see space and supporting lines, added with a strong mental attitude and good skills. He’s worked very hard to get to this point in his career and to be playing for the Ospreys senior side, and is a real example to all teenage rugby players in the region. He didn’t make selection for our Under-16 side but didn’t let it get to him, and the hard work he put in saw him force his way back into the set-up at Under-18 level. He’s had to be patient for his chance at this level, but it was a well deserved call-up last week and I think he did very well indeed when he came on, particularly as he’d been under the weather with a cold. I’m really pleased that he’s been rewarded for his efforts, and I’m looking forward to seeing him becoming more involved at senior level on the back of this experience, which will stand him in good stead.”