Justin Tipuric: 'Small' Wales flanker eyes Springbok challenge

Duane Vermeulen of South Africa collides with Wales' Justin Tipuric in 2013
Wales' Justin Tipuric feels the force of South Africa's Duane Vermeulen in 2013
Under Armour Series: Wales v South Africa
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 26 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric says it will be nothing new for him if he faces a much bigger South African opponent in Saturday's final Autumn Test.

Twenty-seven-year-old Tipuric, who weighs 15st 9lb, would give away around three stones in weight if he is picked opposite Willem Alberts.

"Even when I was younger, it would be playing against everyone much bigger than you," he told BBC Wales Sport.

"It's exactly the same now even at this stage of my life."

Wales and South Africa are both due to announce their teams on Thursday, 24 November.

Alberts wore the open-side jersey for the Springboks in their defeat by Italy, but faces a fitness test on a neck injury.

Fellow heavyweight Pieter-Steph du Toit filled the position against England, while Tipuric wore number seven for Wales against Australia and Argentina earlier in the month.

"If you're the smallest, people think they'll run over you for fun and it is nice to put in a good tackle and get them down. It's something you enjoy as a back-rower," said the Ospreys player.

Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric
Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric played in the same Wales Under-20 back-row

Tipuric is renowned for being one of the fastest forwards in the game, but admits he had trouble convincing people of his physical attributes when he was younger.

He has made 45 Wales appearances and another for the British and Irish Lions - against Australia in 2013 - while largely being understudy Sam Warburton, the captain of both teams.

"To be honest I've always been smaller than everyone, growing up as a kid," he said.

"When I was younger at the Ospreys, there was a bit of my career when they said 'he's a bit too slow and a bit too small' but I've had a lot of ups and downs through my career. It's nothing abnormal to anyone else."

Style change

Tipuric says it could suit his style if Wales switch to a wider, more fluid game after years of more direct tactics under coach Warren Gatland, dubbed 'Warrenball'.

"If you're in a team like that and the ball's going a bit wider, it's something I enjoy," he added.

"We try to spread the ball a bit with the Ospreys and there's a bit more, how shall I say, enjoyment for me.

"We are getting there [with Wales]. It's a bit tough because we're not as fluid as we would like, everybody knows that. But we will get there, hopefully on Saturday."

Faletau option

Tipuric will be fighting for a back-row place in the squad after Taulupe Faletau's return to action for Bath last Friday against Bristol following a knee injury.

Skipper Warburton and Dan Lydiate are the other regulars in the back-row selection battle, while Ross Moriarty and James King have also made an impression this autumn.

"He's world-class, and to have him back starting or involved would be massive," said Tipuric.

"I think it raises everyone in the team when you see world-class players around you, you've got to be up to that standard."

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