Australia v Wales, Rugby World Cup, October 21, 2011
Faletau set for personal milestone
October 20, 2011
Toby Faletau has been a standout performer for Wales © Getty Images
Toby Faletau is set to cap a remarkable Rugby World Cup campaign with a personal milestone in Friday's bronze medal match against Australia.
The Dragons No.8 will start his seventh consecutive tournament match, eclipsing the previous Welsh record of six, held by Paul Thorburn, Adrian Hadley and Paul Moriarty - members of the squad at the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
Faletau switches to openside for the game, as a result of skipper Sam Warburton's three-week ban for a dangerous tackle in last weekend's semi-final loss to France, and will go head-to-head with one of the world's best in Wallaby David Pocock.
"Coming out here, I didn't expect to start as much," he said. "It has definitely been the greatest experience of my rugby-playing life. I just go out there to play rugby. I didn't start getting into rugby until I was a teenager, but my ambition has always been to play in a World Cup.
"David Pocock is one of the best sevens out there. I've only ever played one game at seven, for the Dragons against Munster, and we lost. It is a tough position - there is a lot more running - but I enjoyed it."
Despite his heavy workload in the tournament, the 20-year-old insists that he is ready for further action and also that Wales are keen to use their strong showing in New Zealand as a springboard for the forthcoming Six Nations.
"I am not tired," he said. "We've been managed properly, and I have recovered well after matches. I am fine to go, and I can definitely get better. I definitely think Wales can use this tournament as a springboard to achieve things in the Six Nations this season. We can build on this."
Among Faletau's many admirers is former Wales skipper Scott Quinnell, who praised the youngster's performances and also the blend in the Welsh back-row.
"He has been been amazing," he said. "What can you say? He has been absolutely magnificent. Look at the performances he's put in consistently. From the try he scored against South Africa, he has continued to carry ball and make his tackles.
"There is a wonderful balance in the back-row with Faletau, [Dan] Lydiate and Warburton, three players who complement each other in all aspects of the game. I am just excited that it could be our back-row for 10 years to come."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.