Lions tour the highlight of my career, says Toby Faletau
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons star Toby Faletau says the British and Irish Lions’ sensational series-winning success over Australia last month is the pinnacle of his already eventful career.
Hailed as one of the best number eights in world rugby, the 22-year-old played a pivotal role in the tourists’ remarkable 41-16 win over the Wallabies on his Lions Test debut.
For the previous two clashes with the Aussies, the visitors winning the first Test 23-21 before losing 16-15, Faletau was forced to sit out after missing out on the 23-man match-day squads. But the Lions’ head coach Warren Gatland gave the Pontypool-raised back rower the nod for the deciding third Test in Sydney at the expense of Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip.
And Faletau, who boosted the Dragons this week by extending his contract by a further two years until 2016, repaid the faith in full with a stunning performance.
The Lions edged a dramatic series to secure their first overall triumph since the class of 1997 who came away from South Africa with another 2-1 win.
With Wales he has already reached the World Cup semi-finals, won a Grand Slam in 2012 and secured a successive Six Nations title after a record 30-3 victory over England in March.
But Faletau, who secured a vital turnover in the third Test when the Wallabies were battering the Lions’ try-line with the score precariously balanced at 22-16, admits last month’s historic triumph trumps the lot.
“The Lions was the highlight of my career,” Faletau said. “It was a great tour and brilliant to be involved in the final Test.
“I was disappointed to miss the first two Tests but there were still midweek games and I just had to concentrate on that. Just to get selected for the third Test was a high and to play in the game and then to see how the boys did and to win the game – I just can’t explain it.
“And to win against the Aussies after failing so many times with Wales – they’ve been such a hard side to play against over the past couple of years.”
Wales have lost eight matches in a row to Australia and are presented with another chance to end their miserable recent record against the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, November 30.
But they will take great heart from the fact that ten Welshmen started in the Lions’ 41-16 win with openside Justin Tipuric coming on as a replacement.
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