Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Faletau set for Wales chance

Toby Faletau

Wales coach Warren Gatland has given a clear indication that exciting Newport Gwent Dragons prospect Toby Faletau will be handed the chance to press his World Cup selection claims next month.

The uncapped back-row forward has been in blistering Magners League form for the Dragons - displays that have earned Gatland's acclaim. Faletau, 20, is likely to be named early next week in a 24-man Wales squad ahead of a June 4 appointment with the Barbarians in Cardiff.

Gatland said: "The stand-out player I've seen in the last couple of weeks is Toby Faletau. The last two games I've watched at Rodney Parade against the Ospreys and the Blues, I thought he really came into his own. He is one of the youngsters who has a good chance of being in the squad, and so hopefully that gives a good indication of how we want to play."

Injuries look set to sideline the likes of full-back Lee Byrne (knee) and lock Bradley Davies (chest) from Wales' final game before World Cup warm-up fixtures in August against England (twice) and Argentina.

And the selection debate will rage - certainly outside the Wales camp - as to whether Gatland should include Gavin Henson and Andy Powell in his group to face the Barbarians.

Henson was this week reinstated by French club Toulon after they suspended him following a nightclub incident with team-mates after a Top 14 victory over Toulouse last month.Henson, who last played for Wales more than two years ago, features in Toulon's 26-man squad for their crunch league clash against Montpellier on Saturday.

Powell, meanwhile, left Aviva Premiership club Wasps by mutual consent on Wednesday. He had been suspended by them while they investigated a brawl involving the 29-year-old in a London pub.

Gatland, whose World Cup preparations will also include two training camps in Poland during July, added: "We have four or five players not available for the Barbarians game with injuries, but there are some youngsters playing really well at the moment.

"I know we have been criticised for being conservative, but that's definitely not the way we like to play and like to coach. I can tell you now we encourage the players to go out there and play, to make the right decision, to play heads-up rugby.

"The message will be that if you think the opportunity is on to run the ball from behind your own goal-line because there is a three-man overlap, then go for it."

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