VIDEO: Justin Tipuric ready to go head to head with Sean O’Brien in Ospreys V Leinster Heineken Cup game
JUSTIN Tipuric will feature in the Heineken Cup against Leinster in Swansea on Saturday with the Ospreys believing he has all the qualities to match the player known as the Tullow Tank.
The 6ft 2in, 17st Sean O’Brien is among the finest ball carriers in European rugby.
He kept Tipuric out of the Lions’ side for the final Test against Australia in the summer, but the Ospreys have total faith in their multi-skilled openside flanker and are expecting him to shine in a game they need to win if they are to survive a pool that also includes Northampton Saints and Castres.
Asked to assess the openside duel, Ospreys assistant coach Gruff Rees said: “They are contrasting players, but Tips has a bit of everything about his game.
“We know he has wondrous ball-playing ability, he’s good over the ball and he’s the ultimate link man. But I think he can be a physical carrier in the same mould as Sean O’Brien as well.
“To be fair, O’Brien has been a key player for Leinster during their run over the past few years. As a go-to man for them, he’s been fantastic.
“I’d like to see Justin get on the ball this weekend and create some problems for the Leinster defence in different ways as well.”
How the sevens perform will be crucial to the outcome of a game both sides will be desperate to win to gain early momentum.
Tipuric’s strength is the incredible variety to his game.
As well as being a superb support player and outstanding creative influence, he is also a rock-solid defender who rarely misses a tackle.
But the Trebanos product played down his one-on-one with O’Brien, saying: “We are different kinds of players.
“He is very good at what he does, up there with the best in the world, but in the modern game it comes down to back row versus back row as much as seven versus seven.
“They have one hell of a back row, so it is going to be tough for us to get around the field, look after the ball and make sure the team is playing well. It’s going to be a big team effort.
“It won’t just be Sean O’Brien over the ball. It will be Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Brian O’Driscoll — all of them are good in that respect.
“Everyone seems to be up to speed in that area of play. It’s not going to be easy and we have to make sure everyone cleans out rucks and looks after the ball.”