Jac Morgan has received a ringing endorsement of his all-round quality as he prepares for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final appointment with Argentina.
Wales co-captain Morgan is expected to skipper the side, as he did for critical pool-stage victories over Fiji and Australia, against the Pumas in Marseille.
The Ospreys forward has arguably been Wales’ outstanding player of the tournament and it has earned him acclaim after displaying similar attributes to former back-row stars Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric.
Warburton was 22 – a year younger than Morgan – when he captained Wales to the 2011 World Cup semi-finals and similarities have often been made between the two.
Morgan, though, has also shown the attacking skills and footballing ability that Tipuric, who announced his retirement from Test rugby earlier this year, was renowned for.
“There is a work ethic there, a hunger to be the best, all those similarities,” Wales assistant coach and former international back-row forward Jonathan Thomas said.
“It is really interesting, because you had quite contrasting players in Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric.
“Both world-class players, but quite contrasting in their styles. Jac is probably a bit of a hybrid of both, if that makes sense.
“Jac is pretty physical, hard-working – characteristics that Sam had. But he has also got a good skill-set, a bit like Tips, with some of those nice kicks he has done.
“He is obviously young and he will be learning and growing through his experience as well.
“He is a really humble kid and he will know he is not the finished article at this stage, but he has got a really good balance to his game.”
Morgan will feature in a reshaped Wales back-row following a tournament-ending injury suffered by number eight Taulupe Faletau against Georgia last weekend.
Faletau broke his arm during that game, with Aaron Wainwight widely expected to be switched from blindside flanker and handed the number eight shirt.
That could mean Morgan moving from openside to blindside, with Tommy Reffell completing the back-row trio, while Dan Lydiate and Christ Tshiunza also provide options.
“Gats (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) from the outset wanted people to express their individuality and focus on what their super-strength is,” Thomas added.
“We’ve had a bit of a theme about relating your individual ability to a superhero.
“It wouldn’t work if you went into a game trying to be Toby (Faletau). You’ve got to be yourself and show your particular super-strength.
“Toby is an obvious loss to the team, but I think where this team is at at the moment and what we are about is that we are a team.
“We have a way that we want to play and whoever slots in is really clear on the team objective and then he has to bring his own individual super-strength to the team. You can’t try to say to a player that you need to play like Toby.
“A game of rugby is each individual expressing themselves, but also doing their job for the team. Whoever gets selected will hone into whatever the team objective is and how we want to play.”
Gatland will name his side on Thursday, with fly-half Dan Biggar expected to return following a pectoral muscle injury that forced him off early against Australia.
Gareth Anscombe looks likely to provide bench cover for Biggar if he recovers in time from a groin problem, and full-back Liam Williams took a blow to his knee during the Georgia match.
Thomas on Tuesday described the situation as “pretty positive” regarding Anscombe and Williams in their quest to be available for selection.