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Warburton salutes Faletau impact

Wales captain Sam Warburton has hailed his back-row colleague Toby Faletau's "unbelievable" impact on Test match rugby.

Number eight Faletau scored Wales' try and was a constant ball-carrying threat during the agonising 17-16 Pool D defeat against world champions South Africa in Wellington last Sunday.

"For Toby to be 20-years-old, playing at number eight in one of the most physical positions in the game, it's unbelievable seeing him putting in the performances he is at the moment," said Warburton.

Faletau has won only four caps and is still two months short of his 21st birthday, yet he has already forged one of the current international game's outstanding back-rows alongside Warburton and Dan Lydiate.

Warburton added: "I enjoyed the game on Sunday. Their back-row is one of the best in the world, and myself, Dan and Toby relished the challenge.

"I always aspire to try to be a good player, and the World Cup is a perfect opportunity to try to do that, but I would swap the man-of-the-match award for a win over the South Africans any day."

Wales, as a consequence of the shattering Springboks loss, are now effectively in a knockout rugby situation entering their final three group fixtures against Samoa, Namibia and Fiji.

One more defeat and they will be staring at a pool stage exit, but such was the high level of their display against South Africa that Wales are firmly established as a 2011 World Cup force, having gained many new admirers through the quality they showed.

"I would rather not have the tag of underdog," added Warburton. "I would rather have the tag of being expected to win and people wanting to chase you.

"Everyone knows how important the game is against Samoa, you don't have to emphasise that. And if we want to be one of the better teams in the world, we have to be used to having that expectation on our shoulders."


From Belfast Telegraph