Lions 2013: Justin Tipuric hopes form can push him into Test team

Justin Tipuric believes he can force his way into the British and Irish Lions Test side despite battling against captain Sam Warburton for the open-side flanker position.

Tipuric was preferred to Warburton in the seven shirt when Wales beat England in the Six Nations title decider.

And he expects form on tour will be the primary factor in team selection.

"It's never nice with the captain in your position but I've had it for the last few years with Wales," he said.

"You've just got to keep enjoying your rugby and keep working hard and training hard more than anything.

"A lot of it is down to form and the game plan the coaches want to follow."

Tipuric and Warburton are the two specialist sevens chosen by coach Warren Gatland in the Lions squad for the tour to Australia, which starts with a warm-up match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June.

Lions fixture list

  • Sat 1 June: Barbarians, Hong Kong
  • Wed 5 June: Western Force, Perth
  • Sat 8 June: Queensland Reds, Brisbane
  • Wed 12 June: Combined New South Wales-Queensland Country, Newcastle
  • Sat 15 June: New South Wales Waratahs, Sydney
  • Tue 18 June: ACT Brumbies, Canberra
  • Sat 22 June: First Test, Brisbane
  • Tue 25 June: Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne
  • Sat 29 June: Second Test, Melbourne
  • Sat 6 July: Third Test, Sydney

Tom Croft, Sean O'Brien and Dan Lydiate are the options at blind-side, although Croft and O'Brien have also played as open-sides.

Warburton, too, is no stranger to switching positions, having played at six against England in March when Tipuric won the man-of-the-match award.

"If you look at the strength of the back-row, everyone's such a good player, it's unbelievable and it's quite an honour more than anything to be involved because of the quality of the players," added 23-year-old Tipuric, who has won 15 caps for Wales.

Warburton was appointed Wales captain by coach Gatland in 2011, leading the side to the World Cup semi-finals and then the 2012 Grand Slam.

But the 24-year-old lost the captaincy during this season's Six Nations when Wales were led by Rob Howley as Gatland concentrated on his Lions duties.

Gatland, though, has shown his faith in Warburton by asking him to lead the Lions in Australia, putting him in pole position to claim the Test spot at open-side flanker.

Warburton insists such thoughts have not entered his mind as he refuses to accept preferential treatment when it comes to selection.

"You don't want to become complacent and think you have got a starting place in the team," he said.

"I like it when you go into the team announcements and you are on the edge not knowing if you are going to get picked.

"Knowing that you might not be involved is what keeps you going in training and keeps you dedicated off the pitch as well.

"What Warren has emphasised is that he feels he has a squad where everyone can compete for a Test starting XV place, and that's the best way to be, so everyone is on edge in training."