Toby Faletau aiming for more magic Murrayfield memories

South Wales Argus: IN TOP FORM: Wales’ Tongan-born star Toby Faletau IN TOP FORM: Wales’ Tongan-born star Toby Faletau

MURRAYFIELD has a special significance for Newport Gwent Dragons number eight Toby Faletau as it was at the famous ground that he made his professional debut four years ago.

At the tender age of 18, he came on as a 71st minute replacement for Grant Webb in a 9-8 win over Edinburgh, one of those rare away day victories to savour for the region.

Only 2,066 hardy souls braved the weather on that atrocious November Sunday night, the magnificent Murrayfield reduced to little more than a ghost town.

It will be slightly different next weekend when Faletau is set to make his first Wales appearance there against a resurgent Scotland, their Six Nations clash a 67,144 sell-out.

One of the abiding memories of that game in 2009 was then head coach Paul Turner’s jig of joy at the final whistle as if his side had won the Heineken Cup – still away wins were as much of a premium in those days as they are now.

The other is Faletau knocking the ball on with the try line at his mercy in the last minute.

Still, the youngster, who had been playing in the Premiership for Cross Keys at the time, made an impact in those nine short minutes and the rest, as they say, is history.

On being asked about his first appearance for the Dragons, a typically unassuming Faletau replied: “I came off the bench and I dropped the ball. That’s about all I can remember about it!

“I’m hoping it’ll be my first game for Wales there next weekend.

“Whenever I’ve played at Murrayfield for the Dragons, it has been a bit like a graveyard without a big crowd.

“But having watched internationals on television, it looks like it’s got a really good atmosphere and I’m looking forward to experiencing it for real.”

The 22-year-old is in Lions form, Wales’ top ball carrier in both the 30-22 home defeat to Ireland and last weekend’s 26-9 triumph over Italy in Rome with 20 and ten runs made respectively.

Faletau was delighted with the win at the Stadio Olimpico and revealed that the side’s second consecutive clean try sheet, after the 16-6 success over France in Paris earlier this month, was keeping Wales’ defence coach happy.

Rugby league legend Shaun Edwards is clearly not a man to be trifled with and his charges have now gone nearly two and a half matches, thanks to Brian O’Driscoll’s 42nd minute try at the Millennium Stadium, without having their whitewash crossed.

“The conditions weren’t great in Rome but it was just good to get a win again,” Faletau said.

“Shaun is always happy with a clean sheet and it’s always nice to come in on a Monday and see him happy.”

Scotland will present a formidable challenge to Wales on March 9 after recording back to back wins at Murrayfield over Italy and Ireland.

Both teams will be looking for a hat trick of victories and Faletau is wary of the visitors’ back row which is likely to include the formidable and talented trio of Rob Harley, captain Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie. “Scotland had a great win against Ireland,” Faletau said.

“They’ve always had a good back row. I’ve enjoyed watched them over the years and Johnnie Beattie is a great athlete.”

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