Wales' flanker Justin Tipuric will captain his country in their November Tests with Dan Biggar unavailable through injury
London (AFP) - Justin Tipuric will captain Wales in their November international campaign, it was announced Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Ospreys flanker, capped 85 times by Wales, replaces the injured Dan Biggar as skipper.
Tipuric missed the whole of last season after suffering a shoulder injury during the British and Irish Lions’ warm-up Test against Japan in June 2021 ahead of the combined side’s tour of South Africa.
Tipuric previously captained Wales against Uruguay during the 2019 World Cup in Japan and also led them against Georgia a year later.
“I’m obviously honoured,” Tipuric, who last played for Wales against France in the 2021 Six Nations, told a news conference.
“I didn’t quite expect it to be honest. I’m just happy to be back in the squad.
“To have the responsibility to leading such a great bunch of boys out on the field is one of the highlights of my career.”
Tipuric, reflecting on his lengthy spell on the sidelines, added: “I always had that aim to get back on the pitch. You are not the youngest and a few people are questioning if you are going to carry on or not, but you make the most of what you’ve got.
“I put my trust in the surgeon and the great strength and conditioning and medical teams I had. I hoped I could get over the line.”
Wales begin their autumn programme in Cardiff against New Zealand on November 5 as they look to end a run of 32 straight defeats in the fixture since their last win over the All Blacks back in 1953.
They also face Argentina, Georgia and Australia next month.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac explained Tipuric’s appointment by saying: “We think he will command a starting position, and he has got the respect of all the players in the squad… Justin can play in all three back-row positions, so we have multiple options with the group that we have got.”
The New Zealander added: “I admire those players that get through those dark times, and when they come out the other side they are generally a lot stronger for it.”
Tipuric will take charge of a depleted Wales squad, with Dewi Lake the latest player to be ruled out of the November campaign.
The Ospreys hooker suffered a shoulder injury during his team’s United Rugby Championship defeat against the Dragons on Sunday.
Lake has been replaced in the 35-man squad by Dragons’ former Ulster forward Bradley Roberts in what promises to be a test of Wales’ squad depth ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.
Wales were already without Biggar, Liam Williams, Wyn Jones, Leon Brown, Seb Davies, Johnny Williams, Josh Navidi and Taine Basham.
Pivac is also having to monitor the fitness of backs George North (knee), Leigh Halfpenny (hamstring), Josh Adams (hand), Alex Cuthbert (shoulder) and Gareth Anscombe (ribs) ahead of the match against the All Blacks.