Toby Faletau kept on his toes by young gun
SCOTLAND U20 v WALES U20 (Tonight, KO 7.35)
WALES Under-20s starlet Ieuan Jones has British Lions hopeful Toby Faletau sweating on his place in the Newport Gwent Dragons back row.
The 19-year-old number eight from Bargoed has been in dazzling form for his region after grasping the opportunity provided by Tom Brown’s ankle injury and Faletau’s international call.
Jones has made 14 Dragons appearances this season and was inspirational against Leinster last weekend, impressing one of the world’s best number eights who was watching from the stands.
“Ianto has been in amazing form with the Dragons recently and has been carrying the ball superbly – I think he’s got the number eight jersey now and I will struggle to get it back off him,” said Faletau.
And it’s not only at Rodney Parade that the keen youngster is making an impression on his teammate, who is vastly experienced on the international stage yet only three years older than Jones.
“We train with the Under-20s and it’s tough because they really charge in,” said Faletau.
“It’s good for the team and helps with our preparation. They do driving lineouts and scrums with us and get stuck in. Ianto goes flying in – he loves it!”
Jones will make his first Under-20s start of the Six Nations against Scotland in Inverness this evening.
He was released for regional action along with fellow Dragons Hallam Amos and Jack Dixon and Cardiff Blues starlets Harry Robinson and Rhys Patchell.
And his Dragons displays meant that Under-20s head coach Danny Wilson had no hesitation in drafting him straight in.
“Ieuan has been great and I have been really impressed with his performances,” he said.
“He has kicked on and is at another level, you can see that he has improved in a lot of areas.
“Ieuan is a great lad and a real character who has a real edge in training.
“I am sure he will continue to keep improving with age and exposure to regional rugby and will put real pressure on the rest of the back row forwards at the Dragons.”
Robinson also starts this evening while Amos and Dixon have to be content with spots on the bench.
Wales have won all three games so far but Wilson insists that they are not getting ahead of themselves by thinking ahead to England and a potential Grand Slam.
“It’s all about Scotland and we have a job to do,” said the former Dragons forwards coach. “They are better than they have been in recent years, good wins against Ireland and Italy while they pushed England hard away, which is no mean feat.
“We know it’s going to be a really tough game.”