Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric passes fitness test after injury
JUSTIN Tipuric has given the Ospreys a huge eve-of-Heineken Cup boost by declaring: “Count me in for the game with Treviso tomorrow night.”
The multi-skilled flanker, described by his region as a complete rugby player, passed a fitness test on his damaged hip and is expected to take his place for the Pool 2 encounter at the Liberty Stadium.
On a run of 25 tackles without a single miss, Tipuric is poised to feature in a home pack that is set to be at full strength, with Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones also having overcome fitness concerns.
Well though Sam Lewis played against Zebre last Friday, the Ospreys will be delighted to see their first-choice No. 7 returning for the start of the European campaign.
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After the Trebanos product’s performance against Munster last time out, he was described as “peerless” by former Wales openside and captain Gwyn Jones.
And Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys said of Tipuric: “He’s the complete player, isn’t he?
“He’s fantastic for us, a very intelligent rugby player, the perfect seven who does everything.
“He tackles, gets on the ball, is a linkman and can play like an inside centre if you want him to.
“On top of all that, he’s a great kid. I don’t think you’ll see many better professionals. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Tipuric will be plunged into a back-row battle that should be worth the admission money on its own, with the opposition having a pool of outstanding breakaway forwards, including Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri and Simone Favaro, who arrived from Aironi in the summer to bolster Treviso in a key area.
“There’s a lot to like in their back row, unless you are facing them,” said Ospreys assistant coach Gruff Rees.
“I worked with Favaro at Aironi last season and defensively he is fantastic.
“Aironi played Leicester and he made 33 tackles, missing none. He covers the ground and he’s physical.
“There’s a good blend, with Zanni more of an attacking threat who likes to roam the field and Barbieri a physical ball-carrier.
“But we have outstanding quality in that area as well. It’s going to be a great match-up.”