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Taulupe Faletau savours every moment with Wales

Published 22/09/2015

Number eight Taulupe Faletau has proved to be a model consistency for Wales in recent seasons
Number eight Taulupe Faletau has proved to be a model consistency for Wales in recent seasons

Taulupe Faletau has been among Wales' most consistent and durable performers of the past four years - but he still pinches himself that he is living life on rugby union's global stage.

When, as expected, the Newport Gwent Dragons number eight runs out against World Cup hosts and fierce Pool A rivals England at Twickenham on Saturday night, it will be Faletau's 49th Wales appearance in their last 57 Tests.

Rarely injured, rarely out of form, he has become an integral figure in Wales head coach Warren Gatland's plans, yet the 24-year-old retains an engagingly modest attitude.

"It was new territory for me four years ago at the World Cup," said Faletau, who started all seven Wales games, made 75 tackles during the tournament and did not miss one.

"I had never travelled with the squad before, and suddenly I was visiting these great places and playing in all the games.

"It was surreal, but looking back now it is still the best trip that I've ever been involved with. It was all new to me, and I really enjoyed it.

"Four years has flown by, and I was saying to one of the boys that I still watch internationals and pinch myself that I am going up against these players.

"You don't get used to it. You still get butterflies watching other teams and thinking that you will be playing them some time.

"Four years on, I still get the same feeling running out for an international. There is nothing like it.

"I love playing, and I take every opportunity to play for Wales with both hands. I just like to be out on the pitch as much as I can."

Of the eight Wales games Faletau has missed since making his debut in June 2011, two he could not have played in because he was on the British and Irish Lions' Australia tour when Wales visited Japan.

And only two Tests has he missed through injury - Wales' 2012 appointments with Australia in Melbourne and Sydney - after he broke his hand during the opening game in Brisbane.

"Going into the World Cup (in 2011), I was just happy to make the squad, and if I had played one game I would have been happy," he added.

"I guess I always thought that Ryan Jones and Andy Powell would be in front of me because I had been used to watching them on television, but then I got the nod for the first game against South Africa.

"It snowballed from there, and I didn't expect to play in all the games.

"The World Cup was a hell of an experience for someone new to international rugby. It will take something special to top it, but hopefully this tournament can with a good end result."

Defeat for Wales on Saturday would leave them with a mountain to climb in terms of quarter-final ambitions, given that Australia are also in Pool A, while Fiji cannot be discounted.

And Faletau said: "It's a tough group, there is no getting around that. It's up for anybody to take it.

"Whoever gets through will be in good shape because they will have had competitive rugby from the start.

"All that competition can only benefit the two teams that get through to the knockout stages, and hopefully we will be one of them."

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