Lions 2013: Wales flanker Justin Tipuric relishing debut

Justin Tipuric

Justin Tipuric intends to make the most of his British and Irish Lions debut at openside flanker.

The Osprey is one of nine Welshmen starting the tour opener against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday,

Tipuric, 23, will wear the number seven shirt in the absence of tour captain and Wales rival Sam Warburton, who is ruled out by a knee injury.

"It's a nice chance for me to get out there and wear a Lions jersey and really enjoy myself," Tipuric said.

"I think the biggest thing in rugby you've got to do is really enjoy it.

"To wear that jersey on the weekend is going to be special.

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Tipuric 'pinches himself' over Lions call-up

"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself just to see where you are and what you're going to do."

The Lions have opted not to risk Warburton, who has been given a steroid injection to treat a slight medial knee ligament injury in training.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland said the decision to rest the Cardiff Blues player was precautionary, a decision backed by Tipuric.

"He's [Warburton] got to take it a bit easy. On the first game you don't want to make it bad," Tipuric added.

Despite Warburton's absence, the back-row is all-Welsh with Toby Faletau at number eight and Dan Lydiate wearing number six.

"They're great players so it's a great pleasure playing with them," said Tipuric.

"Obviously we know each other's games a bit better than others at the minute [as we're] just getting used to each other.

"[I'm] just really looking forward to getting out there."

Lions team: Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland); Owen Farrell (England), Mike Phillips (Wales); Mako Vunipola (England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Richie Gray (Scotland), Paul O'Connell (Ireland), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Toby Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: Tom Youngs (England), Cian Healy (Ireland), Matt Stevens (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), George North (Wales).

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