Justin Tipuric is one of the best - Sam Warburton
WALES captain Sam Warburton has declared Justin Tipuric one of the best flankers in Britain — and admits he will have to be at his best to be selected ahead of the Osprey for the autumn internationals.
Tipuric has been in sparkling form this season and, with Warburton missing large parts of the last year through injury, there are suggestions the Ospreys man could steal a march on his Blues rival for a starting spot in the Wales side.
Warburton has been touted as a future Lions captain but, before he can contemplate next summer's tour of Australia, he concedes he is concerned about keeping his place for Wales.
"I think Justin is technically one of the best sevens in Britain," he said. "He's playing very well at the moment.
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"It's easy for me to dismiss talk about the Lions because I've got my hands full trying to get into the Welsh team.
"I know I've got to be playing at the top of my game to make sure I stay in the Welsh squad.
"I'm doing everything I can to make sure I do that because I know there's so much competition in the back row.
"A lot of teams play with makeshift opensides but, if it's an out-and-out openside you're looking for, Justin's your answer."
As well furthering his case for a Wales call-up, Tipuric's displays for the Ospreys have also prompted calls for the 23-year-old to be included in the Lions squad. Tipuric has been hailed as the best openside in Britain by regional team-mate Joe Bearman and, with Warburton similarly effusive in his praise for the Trebanos product, Tipuric could soon be competing with the Wales skipper for a Lions berth.
"Having two Welsh openside flankers in the Lions squad could be realistic," said Warburton.
"Justin was the stand-out forward when it came to fitness testing at the Wales training camps.
"It was good to have that level of competition there, and it really helped bring through players like myself.
"I think that competition is all the way across the board and I think most players will be feeling pressure from a rival, which is great for Welsh rugby."