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‘The nearest thing we have to an All Black style openside’ — England World Cup winner lauds Wales star Justin Tipuric

England World Cup winner Lewis Moody has described Justin Tipuric as “the nearest thing the northern hemisphere has to an All Black style of openside”.

It’s the latest compliment to come the Welsh flanker’s way from across the eastern side of the River Severn during the build-up to Saturday’s Wales v England Six Nations game in Cardiff.

England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot and back rower Courtney Lawes acclaimed the Ospreys man’s qualities earlier in the week.

And Moody, himself a top-quality back rower in his prime, has now added his name to the Tipuric Appreciation Society.

In an analysis piece on the Planet Rugby website, he says: “Tipuric is the nearest thing the northern hemisphere has to an All Black style of openside”, adding of the 31-year-old that he’s “old enough to have played against me a few times and has hardened up a lot as a player, bolting physical defence on to his natural running and support ability.”

It’s a nice tribute, with New Zealand not just a great rugby nation but also one for great opensides, with the likes of Richie McCaw, Michael Jones and Josh Kronfeld among their number.

But it’s unlikely to go to Tipuric’s head.

He may be many things, but the Trebanos product isn’t someone who believes in his own publicity. If there’s a limelight-free corner of a room available, he’s likely to head for it.

Moody, in fact, holds the Wales back row of Tipuric, Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faletau in high regard, full stop, further commenting: “With Navidi’s huge stopping power and Faletau’s athleticism, the three of them form a formidable unit and will be every bit as competitive as England.

“Indeed, on form, they’re possibly the better of the two combinations on view and I really feel that England will have to be on top form to better them.”

The Navidi, Tipuric and Faletau alliance, he says, adds up to “something close to a perfectly balanced breakaway trio”.

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