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Faletau focused on Springboks

Taulupe Faletau has no doubt that Wales can pick themselves up off the canvas for next weekend's appointment with South Africa after being floored once again by world champions New Zealand.

But injuries and unavailability - particularly in the loosehead prop department - look set to stretch Wales' resources.

Bath prop Paul James, plus the Gloucester pair of hooker Richard Hibbard and fly-half James Hook, will return to Aviva Premiership duty as South Africa's visit falls outside the International Rugby Board's autumn window, making them unavailable for Test action.

Ospreys forward Nicky Smith, meanwhile, suffered a pectoral muscle injury after he replaced James late in the second-half against New Zealand, and regular first choice loosehead Gethin Jenkins missed the All Blacks clash due to a hamstring problem.

It means that Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks likely to summon front-row reinforcements by the time his squad reconvene on Monday.

And Wales will also run checks on scrum-half Rhys Webb, who hauled Wales level with a second-half try before suffering groin trouble, and wing George North after he went off for treatment to what Gatland described as "quite a serious laceration".

It will be a case of healing battered bodies after Wales ran and tackled themselves to a standstill in leading New Zealand 16-15 with just 11 minutes left before conceding 19 unanswered points as the All Blacks powered home.

Their 34-16 triumph was the 26th win in a row against Wales and meant a heaviest home defeat for Gatland's team since New Zealand's previous Millennium Stadium visit two years ago.

"It's disappointing. We were in the game until the latter stages, but just let it go," Wales number eight Faletau said.

"New Zealand got the luck of the bounce (for Beauden Barrett's first try) and just went on from there. We couldn't get the momentum back.

"The defensive effort was great, but New Zealand aren't world champions for nothing and they showed their class. We fell off at the end of the game, and that is when a team like them takes advantage.

"It was a great effort by the boys - we left everything on the pitch - but we came up short and it's disappointing to keep saying the same things over again."

Wales have not beaten South Africa since 1999, yet the countries' last meeting in Nelspruit five months ago ended 31-30 to the Springboks, but only after their opponents conceded a penalty try during the dying seconds.

"We are still optimistic for South Africa, especially if we play like we did against New Zealand," Faletau added.

"To be in with a chance of winning the game with 10 minutes left against those guys (New Zealand), we have to take some credit for that.

"We were there or thereabouts until late on, and we have to take confidence from that.

"We are disappointed because we thought we could get something out of the game with New Zealand, but with a bit of luck it will go our way against South Africa.

"We should have won the game against them in the summer, but we lost because of our discipline. We are not far off, and we are confident that the result will go our way soon."


From Belfast Telegraph