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Wales back-row forward Ross Moriarty has learnt from the best

Published 04/11/2016

Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty has a key role to play for Wales in Saturday's clash against Australia
Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty has a key role to play for Wales in Saturday's clash against Australia

Ross Moriarty intends to take the lessons learnt from three punishing appointments with world champions New Zealand into Saturday's autumn series opener between Wales and Australia.

The versatile Gloucester back-row forward will line up at number eight for Wales - his first Test match start in that position - packing down alongside Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric.

Although Wales lost all three Tests against New Zealand in June, nine times-capped Moriarty ranked highly among the individual success stories.

And Saturday's Principality Stadium clash, when he takes over from an injured Taulupe Faletau, provides the 22-year-old with a golden opportunity to further underline his rich potential.

"It doesn't get much harder than playing three 80 minutes against the All Blacks," said Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard also played rugby for Wales.

"There is not a lot that fazes me in the Test match arena now.

"The pace of the game against the best team in the world was a huge difference to what I am used to, for me and the team.

"Just being able to keep up with the pace was one thing, and if you want to be the best, you have to take every opportunity you get. New Zealand do that better than any other team in the world.

"I am just really looking forward to it. I've been playing a lot at six, but I have had some experience off the bench at number eight. Nothing will change for me. I will keep doing what I've been doing and I am looking forward to the challenge."

Faletau has rarely been absent for Wales during an outstanding 61-cap Wales career, establishing himself as a world-class mainstay of the team under Warren Gatland, which underlines how big a task Moriarty faces this weekend.

But his level of performance, particularly in New Zealand, suggested that Wales might have unearthed another back-row gem.

"Toby (Faletau) has a lot of experience, and he is a great leader on the field," Moriarty added.

"Obviously, he is injured at the moment, and I feel it's a great opportunity for me to step up and show everyone what I can do.

"He has been playing at eight since I moved into the forwards (Moriarty played full-back as a teenager), so he has always been a player I've looked at.

"I will be doing my best to match what he has done. He is always helpful, he has helped me with little things this week and he is always open for questions."

With Australia fielding breakdown masters David Pocock and Michael Hooper in their back-row, Saturday's clash will provide another major examination for Moriarty as he makes his way in the international game.

"I've watched a lot of international rugby, and they are always two of the stand-out players," he added. "I am just really excited to get on the same pitch as them.

"It poses a different challenge to other matches, but it will be about how we manage that."

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