Toby Faletau gets the all-clear for Wales but Warren Gatland facing back row headache
7:02am Monday 28th October 2013 in Sport
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons star Toby Faletau has been given the all-clear to slot in at number eight in Wales' opening autumn international – but Warren Gatland still has a back row selection headache, writes Chris Kirwan.
Faletau was stretchered off in a neck brace in the second half of his region's 40-17 loss to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium last Friday.
The Lions number eight suffered a blow to the head when he attempted to tackle wing Eli Walker and also caught himself on teammate Sam Parry on his way to the ground.
He complained of feeling numb in his left arm and was treated for nearly 10 minutes on the pitch before being taken to Morriston Hospital for a scan, which didn't reveal any major damage.
Faletau said on Twitter: "Thank you all for your well wishes & thanks to both dragons and ospreys physios. Nothing too serious"
Dragons team manager Robert Beale confirmed that their star player had been given the all-clear.
He said: "Extra precautions have to be taken with neck injuries but Toby left hospital at 2.30am and is fine, though a bit sore."
Wales boss Warren Gatland will have breathed a sigh of relief as Faletau is the only specialist number eight in his squad for the autumn internationals.
He will, however, have a tough call to make when it comes to his flankers.
Gatland is a huge fan of Dan Lydiate and the former Dragons blindside's physicality will be vital against South Africa on the November 9 series opener.
That would leave the boss once again having to choose between captain Sam Warburton and in-form Justin Tipuric, who crossed for two tries for the Ospreys in a sublime performance last Friday.
"Justin was outstanding and it was almost disappointing that he didn't get a hat-trick," said Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones.
"It's nice to observe and appreciate good rugby, when there were 29 players slugging it out in the first half he kept himself above everybody. He carried that into the second half and was like two players on the field.
"International rugby is about having players on top of their game that are the envy of other countries
"At the moment Wales are blessed to have two opensides that proved against England can play together. It's a tough choice, but that's why Warren is where he is to make those decisions."
Wales face Argentina, Tonga and Australia after the Springboks Test.