Sunday 17 December 2017

Wales hit by Warburton blow ahead of French clash

Chris Hewett

One of Sam Warburton's few weaknesses as an openside flanker of undisputed class is his lamentable record of physical malfunction – or to put it more simply, he spends too much time on the casualty list.

The Wales captain will miss tomorrow's Six Nations meeting with France in Paris after failing to recover from a "stinger" injury suffered during last weekend's home defeat by Ireland and as a result, Justin Tipuric will start the game – a development that could have all manner of ramifications.

The way Tipuric is playing at the moment, he will push extremely hard for a place in the Lions squad for this summer's business in Australia – a party Warburton was hotly tipped to lead at the start of the season.


Wales have made two further changes to their starting combination, with Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard replacing forward Matthew Rees in the front-row, and Ryan Jones easing Aaron Shingler out of the blindside flanker's role.

"France will be smarting after losing their opening game in Italy, but Paris is a wonderful place to go – loud, noisy, a great rugby arena – and we should be looking forward to this," Jones said.

Rob Howley looked as white as a sheet during the first half of last weekend's game, when Ireland established a winning lead before the interval.

"It wasn't good enough," interim coach Howley said. "That first half won't be replicated. Our discipline let us down – you need field position in international rugby, and we gave the Irish a lot of field position. But when you look at what happened, it's all fixable. I know we will start better this weekend."

France have made two changes to their side with Mathieu Bastareaud returning to midfield in place of Toulouse's Florian Fritz, while Toulon lock Jocelino Suta replaces Pascal Pape. (© Independent News Service)

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Irish Independent

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