NUMBER eight Toby Faletau says Wales new boy Andrew Coombs is playing like a Test veteran and believes the returning locks face a hard job to wrestle the number 4 jersey off his back.
The Newport Gwent Dragons second row won his second cap in the Stade de France on Saturday evening and was instrumental in helping down Les Bleus.
Coombs was outstanding on his Wales debut against Ireland and put in another all-action shift in Paris, carrying the ball 10 times (joint highest with Ryan Jones) and making 13 tackles (third highest).
The 28-year-old got the Six Nations call because of injuries to Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies and has grasped his opportunity.
And his Dragons teammate Faletau is taken aback by the way that he has taken the leap from regional rugby to the international stage in his stride.
“Coombsy has been outstanding and has slotted in like he’s been in the squad for years,” said Faletau, six years his junior but 21 caps more experienced.
“Credit to him, he’s putting in the hard work and it is showing out on the field.
“He is doing really well and I am so pleased for him. He deserves a lot of praise because he has put in two brilliant performances.
“He is great to play alongside because his work rate is incredible, he is aggressive, gives everything and has also done well in the set piece.
“Coombsy may not be as big as some locks but he’s got a massive heart – he gets stuck into everything and gives it his all.
“He’s done really well and will make sure the coaches have a selection headache when the other locks come back, which is all you could have asked for.
“I think he has come into the squad and is here to stay. He just needs to keep doing what he has been doing.”
Faletau believes that Saturday’s win in the Stade de France could be a turning point for the reigning Six Nations champions.
It was Wales’ first win against a country since securing the Grand Slam against Les Bleus last March but the number eight says the group stayed united in defeat.
“We were under pressure but we just had to keep working hard and believe in what we were doing,” he said.
“It was a team effort and everyone was out there for each other.
“We are a tight bunch and have all stuck together.
“We just had to dig deep and come out the other end, luckily we managed to do that and hopefully we can go on from here and go on a winning run.”