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Rugby World Cup: Taulupe Faletau is in dreamland with Wales

By Andrew Baldock

Taulupe Faletau has been among Wales' most consistent and durable performers over 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 No.8 runs out against World Cup hosts and fierce Pool A rivals England at Twickenham on Saturday, 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 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.

"It was surreal, but looking back it is still the best trip that I've been involved with.

"Four years has flown by, and 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. There is nothing like it."

Defeat for Wales on Saturday would leave them with a mountain to climb in terms of quarter-final ambitions.

And Faletau said: "It's a tough group. It's up for anybody to take it. All that competition can only benefit the two teams that get through, and hopefully we will be one of them."

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