Wales ace Taulupe Faletau: We're all feeling the heat ahead of France
7:49am Friday 21st February 2014 in National Rugby
FOR years Adam Jones has been the man that Wales dread getting injured the most. Now Taulupe Faletau could lay claim to that title.
Throughout Warren Gatland's side there are able deputies for pretty much every position but number eight is a problem.
It's fortunate that the Newport Gwent Dragons man rarely gets injured because there is a dearth of potential replacements, as was shown by flanker Sam Warburton training in the position before the Six Nations.
Faletau being the modest man he is would deny that his place in the team is secure but Wales are lucky to have such a talent at the base of the scrum.
Perhaps it is his consistent fine performances or perhaps it is the lack of alternatives that meant the 23-year-old was one of the few to escape the criticism following the round two hammering by Ireland.
But Faletau believes he is under as much pressure to produce a big performance against France at the Millennium Stadium this evening as his misfiring teammates.
"We take flak as a team," he said. "We were out there as a side and we take the losses as a side. There's no blame. We just try to address the areas we need to work on.
"It was a tough day and a learning experience for most of us who'd never been involved in that kind of game."
Faletau seems to be involved in a fascinating battle in every round of the Six Nations – he opened up against Sergio Parisse, then locked horns with fellow Lion Jamie Heaslip, tonight it's Louis Picamoles and after that it's his cousin Billy Vunipola.
"Picamoles is definitely a player I admire," said Faletau. "He's a pretty good ball carrier and a difficult guy to stop, a challenge for the boys.
"Our back-row defence will have to be good to stop him and some of their backs. France have big physical forwards and strong carriers in the backline, especially in the centre.
"They are dangerous from anywhere and it's a challenge for our defence but I am sure we will be focused."