Nervy Turnbull conscious he has big boots to fill


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The Independent Online

Playing out of position is one thing, but also taking the place of last year's Six Nations player of the tournament means Josh Turnbull had good reason to admit to nerves yesterday.

The Scarlets forward will earn his fifth cap for Wales against Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday in the place of the injured Dan Lydiate. But Turnbull has no qualms about stepping into Lydiate's boots – it was the wait to learn that he had been picked that caused him the most anxiety.

"It was a bit of a nervous time," said the 24-year-old. "My girlfriend suggested we go to the cinema on Monday night to take my mind off things before selection on Tuesday morning. We went to watch Skyfall, but I was still nervous. You try not to think about selection too much, because it is one of those things that if you think about it too much it can backfire on you and it might not happen.

"But there are always questions in your head, so I am chuffed to get the chance this weekend. It is an opportunity to stake a claim for the rest of the autumn internationals."

Despite playing most of his rugby for the Scarlets at openside flanker, it is the blindside role Turnbull has been asked to occupy on Saturday. Last season's No 6 Lydiate was his country's most consistent performer, highlighted by him being named player of the tournament after Wales' Grand Slam campaign. Lydiate, though, is currently injured, while a shoulder problem has ruled out the former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who was in pole position to pack down in the back row, alongside the captain, Sam Warburton, and the No 8 Toby Faletau, as Lydiate's replacement.

Turnbull's Scarlets colleagues Rob McCusker and Aaron Shingler were also in the mix, but McCusker is on the bench and Shingler misses out completely on a place among Wales' match-day 23.

"Dan's boots are big ones to fill," Turnbull added. "I am looking forward to it on Saturday. Sam and I grew up playing age grade rugby together. He took his opportunities a couple of years ago, and he has gone on from there.

"In 2009, Sam and I came from the same Wales Under-20 side, and I want to take this opportunity on Saturday with both hands."

And Turnbull is under no illusion about what to expect from the Pumas, with their much-heralded forward game once again set to be on show after their debut appearance in the all-new Rugby Championship.

"[Juan Manuel] Leguizamon and [Juan Martin Fernandez] Lobbe on their day are two of the best back-row forwards in the world, and Argentina have got a front-five that works hard and puts them in the right positions," he said. "They are a very forward-orientated team. We've got to chop them down early, get on the ball and play at our pace."