Toby the tackler winning praise from his coaches
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons head coach Darren Edwards has hailed the defensive strides made by Wales star Toby Faletau.
The 21-year-old number eight burst onto the scene with his carries, racking up the yards and showing the turn of speed of a back.
After, by his high standards, a slow start to the campaign he played a starring role in the Dragons’ much-needed 32-12 win against Edinburgh last week.
It wasn’t just his carrying from the base of the scrum that stood out, his defensive efforts were exemplified by a stunning cover tackle after the Scottish side had made a line break in the second half.
Faletau dashed 40 metres from the touchline to smash Nick De Luca five yards shy of the line before the Dragons earned a turnover that snuffed out the danger and dashed Edinburgh hopes of a comeback.
Faletau has always been a fine tackler – he played every game of Wales’ 2011 World Cup campaign and didn’t miss a victim – but it is his turnover talent that is making an impression on his coaches.
“Toby has been putting a lot of hard work in with (defence coach) Rob Appleyard and it’s paying off,” said Edwards.
“Talk about Toby and people immediately think about his ball carrying and ability in the loose.
“He will always have that natural attacking talent but what I think has really stood out so far this season is his liking for the ugly part of the game and his awareness in defence.
“Toby is showing up around the park and is benefiting from Rob’s back row clinics in training.
“His contact area skills are really impressive and I think that he is leading the way in terms of the defensive hunger that we want to instill in our team.”