'Lion King' Toby Faletau gets Wales great's backing
LIONS great Scott Quinnell is tipping Wales number eight Toby Faletau to follow in his footsteps by playing a starring role in Australia this summer.
The former Wales and Llanelli back row forward played all three Tests of the 2001 trip Down Under.
He provided one of the moments of the tour when he barged his way over for a try in the memorable win against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
And Quinnell believes that Newport Gwent Dragons star Faletau, fresh from a key role in Wales’ Six Nations title triumph, is the man who will have eight on his back at the Suncorp Stadium on June 22.
“All players will be a bit twitchy over the next month waiting for Warren Gatland to announce his squad but I think Toby is the man for the Lions at number eight,” said Quinnell.
“He can carry hard and make big yards so I think he is certain to be on that plane to Australia – and he is in a great position to be the Test starter.
“Toby had a superb Six Nations and complements his back row teammates; he doesn’t just do the flashy stuff, he cleans up tough ball, does a lot of the hard work and gets the best out of the players around him.”
Faletau, 22, looks well placed thanks to the iffy form of Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip while it would be a huge, and highly unlikely, risk for Gatland to play flankers Sean O’Brien or Tom Wood out of position.
Quinnell believes that the Welshman’s cause is done no harm by the phenomenal showing of the back row in the brutal Six Nations finale against England.
“It was one of the most physical games that I have ever seen and Wales stood tall,” said the dual-code international, who was no shrinking violet himself.
“That was one of the best Welsh performances I have seen and the back row was superb thanks to the tight five laying the foundations.”
Quinnell added: “We are going to have incredible competition for places now because Ryan Jones was outstanding until he was injured and I saw Dan Lydiate at the Millennium Stadium and he looks like a lean, mean fighting machine.
“Wales have a huge amount of talent in the back row going forward to the World Cup – and that means the Lions have the same going to Australia.”