Tipuric to 'keep head down'

Wales' Justin Tipuric has been receiving rave reviews this season - but wants to keep his head down and stay grounded.

The public clamour for openside specialist Tipuric to start against France reached fever pitch ahead of Thursday's team announcement.

It had been assumed that captain Sam Warburton would move across the back row to accommodate Tipuric, but a shoulder injury has sidelined the skipper, with Ryan Jones called up as captain and handed the number six shirt.

The possible complication for interim head coach Rob Howley is what happens against Italy in three weeks' time if Wales beat France, Tipuric delivers and Warburton regains full fitness.

For the time being, though, Tipuric has an international stage on which to showcase his considerable talent.

"I try not to read papers and I don't have Twitter or anything like that," he said.

"I try to stay away from it, keep my head down and keep grounded, concentrating on rugby. I don't like much publicity at all, even if it is great support.

"It is not about me, it's about working for the team. If we get this win and I've done my role right for the team, then I will be happy.

"I am looking forward to it. I'm excited and I want to play more than anything."

Only three of Tipuric's 11 caps have been collected in the Six Nations arena, including last Saturday against Ireland when he played a pivotal role off the bench as Wales scored 19 unanswered points after trailing 30-3.

He is being talked about as a strong contender for this summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, and this weekend he will find himself up against one of the world's leading back-row operators in France captain Thierry Dusautoir.

"Obviously, Dusautoir hasn't won all those awards for no reason, and (France number eight) Louis Picamoles is an absolute beast of a man and isn't an easy guy to stop," Tipuric added.

"It's definitely going to be a big battle between the back-rowers. They have a great back row, and it will be a tough test for us.

"They (France) will come out of the blocks. Especially at home, they will come flying out, and we have to be ready for that and start well."

Tipuric has always adopted a philosophical approach to contesting the same position as Wales skipper Warburton, but the biggest game of his career now beckons. It is an opportunity that is there to be taken.

"If the captain is there you know he will be starting and it will be difficult to work your way in," he said.

"I think we are quite lucky that there are a great standard of sevens about at the minute. It's probably double figures at the minute the number of sevens that could play for Wales, and there are loads of youngsters coming through.

"It helps you push on to be better to be honest, and you have to work harder and harder to make sure you are performing.

"Growing up, I obviously looked up at Martyn (Williams), and while I was coming through for Wales you look at people like (Richie) McCaw and George Smith.

"When I was younger it was Richard Hill, the England flanker. He just got on with it, he didn't want any praise or anything like that, it was head down getting on with the donkey work."