Wales v England: Ryan Jones's injury could open door for Justin Tipuric
WALES assistant coach Robin McBryde has hinted Ryan Jones's injury could mean that Justin Tipuric is restored to the side to face England in Saturday's Six Nations title decider.
Wales captain Jones has been ruled out for between six and eight weeks after breaking a bone in his shoulder during last weekend's 28-18 victory over Scotland.
The Ospreys back-rower was replaced by his regional colleague Tipuric at Murrayfield, and the substitute combined with Warburton to excellent effect.
Wales have been reluctant to pair Tipuric and Warburton — both openside flankers — in the past, but their dynamic displays against Scotland could have earned them both a starting place for Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown.
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"Sam and Justin could definitely play together," said McBryde. "Without doubt it will be a loss to be without Ryan. I only hope that some of the players have learnt from his example in how to go about their business.
"Andrew Coombs could well be another option for us at six. He's played a lot of his rugby at six.
"He's got great footwork, good off-loading ability. He's very accurate at the breakdown, both in attack and defence, and he's got that physicality about him as well."
As well as the matter of back-row selection, Jones's absence also means Wales will have to appoint a new captain for the England encounter.
Grand Slam-winning skipper Warburton had the armband at the beginning of the Six Nations campaign but, after suffering a shoulder injury during the opening defeat to Ireland, the Blues man passed the leadership duties to Jones.
The Ospreys' veteran of three Grand Slams impressed enough to retain the captaincy when Warburton was restored to the starting line-up against Scotland, but there are no guarantees about who interim Wales coach Rob Howley will choose as his next captain.
As the squad's usual skipper, Warburton is the favourite to resume the role, but former Wales flanker Martyn Williams last weekend suggested Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones should take the reins to allow Warburton to simply concentrate on his own performance.
There are other current squad members who have also captained Wales in recent years — such as prop Gethin Jenkins — and McBryde insists the coaches are keeping their options open.
"As we saw on the weekend, it was pretty much a seamless transition when we unfortunately lost Ryan and Sam took over the captaincy.
"Hopefully not only Sam but everyone has gained from having Ryan about, in and around the squad, not letting that leadership role affect him too much.
"There are a number of leaders throughout the team, and Ryan has been at the top of the tree.
"So as long as we take a leaf out of his book and learn from some of the stuff he's done during this campaign, we should be okay."