Ospreys skipper Tipuric will lead Wales against Uruguay in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool D clash in Kumamoto with his team looking to end the group stages with a perfect record.
Tipuric will become the 15th Welsh captain in the Gatland era which dates back to when the New Zealander first took charge for the 2008 Six Nations.
“I know how hard it was on Justin having Sam Warburton being picked ahead of him, but I thought he was brilliant in the Six Nations,” said Wales head coach Gatland.
“He was outstanding from a performance point of view and he had a really good balance.” Gatland praised the Trebanos man in similar terms used to describe regular captain Alun Wyn Jones, referring to Tipuric as being “like a good wine and getting better with age.”
“He’s great around the group and we know how skilful he is as a player. He’s not just good at 15s, he’s played sevens in his time as well. We’re very lucky to have him in the form he’s in.
“He was disappointed not to play against Fiji and we spoke about that. We wanted to make a couple of changes and we’re lucky to have the strength in depth we do in the loose forwards.
“Part of the reason for that is we wanted some experience and quality in the loose forwards and that’s why Justin is doing the job he is for us on Sunday.”
Tipuric does have experience of captaincy from regional level with the Ospreys.
“It is obviously a great honour. To lead the boys is something special,” he said.
“I don’t really talk much, but if something needs to be said, you say something. I try and do my talking with my actions on the field more than anything.”
Wales, who currently top their pool with three wins from three, have already secured a quarter-final berth and take on Uruguay in Kumamoto to close out their pool campaign.
Captain Tipuric will line-up alongside Aaron Shingler and Aaron Wainwright in a new look back-row.
Ospreys duo Bradley Davies and Adam Beard will pack down in the second row with Nicky Smith, Ryan Elias and Dillon Lewis named in the front row.
Aled Davies and Rhys Patchell will partner at half back with Hadleigh Parkes and Owen Watkin comprising the midfield. Hallam Amos and Leigh Halfpenny come into the back three alongside Josh Adams who claimed a World Cup hat-trick against Fiji in Wales’ last outing.
On the bench Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre and Wyn Jones provide the front row cover with Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty and James Davies also among the replacements.
Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies are named as the back-line cover.
Gatland has made 13 changes to his team and is confident in their abilities, but knows they will have to perform well to beat the South Americans.
“It was a great win against Fiji and they deserved their celebrations,” Gatland said of Uruguay.
“It was great to see and good for rugby as well. I think they’ve defended exceptionally well and they’re a fit side too. In the games they’ve been tough.
“They’ve got a pretty good set-piece and they like to play some attacking rugby.
“We’ve got to make sure we go out there with the right attitude to do a job on a side that thoroughly deserves to be here at the World Cup.”