Half-centurion Tipuric to go for gold with My Girl

Luke PHILLIPS
"I've got a dreadful voice and there's only one song I really know and that's My Girl by The Temptations," said Wales's flanker Justin Tipuric

Wales forward Justin Tipuric has endured an often frustrating career, but the mobile openside flanker will finally win his 50th cap against Ireland on Friday.

Having made his debut in 2011, Tipuric's international career coincided with that of Sam Warburton, until this season Warren Gatland's captain and first name on the teamsheet in the number seven shirt.

That meant the Osprey playing second fiddle to his Blues rival.

But the 27-year-old Tipuric will now have to bellow out, as a squad forfeit to celebrate hitting the 50-cap milestone, his unlikely chosen song: the Temptations' 1965 hit 'My Girl'.

"I'm going to try and run off and not sing, that's what I'm planning!" he laughed.

"I've got a dreadful voice and there's only one song I really know and that's My Girl by The Temptations.

"When I was with Trebanos Youth that was the song I had to sing on tour. It's the only song I know, so if I make it unfortunately I'm going to have to sing that and go for gold!"

Tipuric will become the 42nd Welsh player to win 50 caps and is second on the Wales list for those with fewest starts. His match against Ireland will be just his 24th start, his 26 other appearances coming off the bench.

Only retired hooker Huw Bennett, with 21 starts and 29 as replacement can beat that, the international record held by Irish hooker Sean Cronin (8-42).

"It's always tough being on the bench," acknowledged Tipuric, whose Croatian surname comes from his grandfather Dragotin, a former prisoner of war who moved to Wales after being released by the German army and found employment at a coalmine.

"It's a hard thing to do to come off the bench and try and add something to the game. No player likes being on the bench, but you try and do your best for the team."

- A nice achievement -

Tipuric admitted that reaching the 50-cap milestone was not something that he had really dwelled upon.

"I haven't really thought about it. It's something I didn't think I'd get, but it's crept up and it's a nice achievement to have," he said.

"When you start playing you're happy to get one cap, but to get 50 you just want to keep going and you don't really think about how many caps you have. You just think about the next game and playing for your country."

With the arguably more physical Warburton as a direct rival for the openside shirt, Tipuric said: "You never give up, that's the one thing I've taken from it. You've just got to keep on top of your game."

Tipuric, who will line up alongside Warburton and Ross Moriaty, predicted a battle royale with the Irish backrow of No 8 Jamie Heaslip, and flankers CJ Stander and Sean O'Brien.

"They're a great team. Not many teams beat the All Blacks and they've done that," he said.

"The backrow mix it up quite well. They are known for their choke tackle. Sean and CJ both like to get over the ball. I think CJ tries to choke you a bit and Sean is very over the ball and looks for the jackals.

"They've also got a good scrum, a great line-out and they're very physical around the park. We know exactly what type of game it's going to be. We're going to be battered and bruised afterwards and that's what the games against Ireland are like. They're big, heavy and powerful and it's going to be a tough test."

Tipuric toured Australia with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 along with O'Brien and Heaslip, but stressed that no thought had been given to making Warren Gatland's squad for this summer's tour to New Zealand.

"I don't think anyone thinks about it, and that's the honest truth," he said.

"All you can think about is playing for Wales in that game really. I personally don't and I don't think any of the boys do either. Nobody speaks about it. It's all about us trying to win for Wales."