I’ve much more to give, says Wales ace Toby Faletau
SCOTLAND v WALES (Saturday, KO 2.30)
SPORTSMEN are often their own harshest critics and Wales star Toby Faletau is no different, rating his Six Nations campaign as a paltry 5/10.
While most have heaped praise on the Newport Gwent Dragons number eight for some sterling displays, the 22-year-old insists there is plenty of room for improvement.
Faletau, who looks a shoo-in for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia this summer, has performed admirably against a tough trio of Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, France’s Louis Picamoles and Italy’s Manoa Vosawai.
His stats make impressive reading – he has carried the ball 27 times for 84 metres and made 32 tackles – but the back row forward gives them short shrift.
And Faletau would make his teammates wince if he was to do newspaper match ratings, judging by his high standards.
“I wouldn’t say that I am playing well – I’d give myself a five out of ten,” said the Pontypool-raised forward, surely in a minority of one in holding that opinion.
“I am just hanging in there and taking each game as it comes. I think there is plenty of room for improvement, I just have to keep working hard on all parts of my game.
“My stats are good but that’s nothing big. I don’t really bother with them too much; they are not always a fair reflection of how things are going.”
But one man that Faletau does believe is having a tournament to remember is Ryan Jones, who has starred in the back row while skippering Wales to glory in Paris and Rome.
The 31-year-old’s performances have made light of the absence of Dragons’ blindside Dan Lydiate.
Faletau said: “He is getting the boys together and doing a great job as a captain while his performances have also been outstanding.
“Dan was brilliant last year but Ryan has done as well in a different way. Dan is superb with his chop-tackling but Ryan is a real team player who does his job well and everyone responds to that.
“He loves the dirty work and gets stuck in, whenever there is a ruck he is in there somewhere – find the ball and you will find Ryan.”
Jones, Faletau and openside Sam Warburton will be tasked with dealing with Scotland’s in-form number eight Johnnie Beattie “He is a really good player and is athletic, dynamic, powerful and carries well,” said his opposite number.
“I’ve had this throughout the tournament – they are all big guys and there have been some great challenges.
“Picamoles has been outstanding, he is lethal with ball in hand and is so hard to stop. I think Beattie has been exactly the same.”