Six Nations 2016: Tipuric deserves longer chance, says Thomas

Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton
Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton were first paired together for Wales against England in 2013
Six Nations: Wales v France
Date: Friday, 26 February Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Justin Tipuric should stay on Wales' open-side for the rest of the Six Nations and their three-Test tour to New Zealand in June, says former back-rower Jonathan Thomas.

Ex-Ospreys and Worcester forward Thomas says the debate about Tipuric is "unfair".

Captain Sam Warburton moved to blind-side with Dan Lydiate on the bench for Wales' opening two games.

"I'd like to see Tips given a bit more time in the jersey," said Thomas.

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"Especially going through into the summer tour.

"And I think only then, after, say six months you can have the debate about what's the best combination and who's the best player to play seven.

"But I just think it's unfair on Justin in particular to have this debate so soon."

Wales drew 16-16 with Ireland in their Six Nations opener and beat Scotland 27-23 last Saturday.

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They host France on Friday, 26 February in Cardiff in a game Warren Gatland believes can set up a tournament decider against England at Twickenham in round four.

Thomas "can see" Gatland reverting to a back-row of flankers Lydiate and Warburton alongside Taulupe Faletau at number eight.

But 67-times capped Thomas told BBC Wales: "You can't base whether Tips and Warby work together just based on two games because there's so many different factors that affect that.

Dan Lydiate (L) and Justin Tipuric
Dan Lydiate (L) and Justin Tipuric are Ospreys team-mates

"The two games that those guys have played together, the referee has allowed a contest at the breakdown.

"So people are saying why hasn't Warby had as many turnovers, Tips hasn't had as many?

"Well, a lot of that is to do with the way the game's refereed.

"Also the very nature of the games as well - very tight contests, you're not as likely to see people like Tips popping up in the wider channels.

Wales' Six Nations back-row options
Open-side: Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric
Number eight: Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, James King
Blind-side: Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Ross Moriarty, James King, Josh Turnbull

"So I just think it's way too early to be discussing those sorts of things."

Thomas says Lydiate, Warburton and Faletau were given time to develop at Test level and Lydiate should be given the same opportunity.

"You look at the reason why Lyds, Warby and Faletau have done so well in the jersey over the years is because when they were youngsters they were allowed a long, long time to improve and they were given that opportunity and Gats really stuck by them.

"They weren't the finished article when they first started out and I think a lot of people judge Tips based on one or two performances."

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