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Toby Faletau ready for Wales back row - Paul Turner

31 October 10 13:37 GMT

Dragons coach Paul Turner says Toby Faletau is ready to step up to take a place in Wales' depleted back row.

"He's good enough, certainly," said Turner. "We're here to get these youngsters playing for their country and he's proved he's up to the job."

Faletau, 19, scored a stunning try in a man-of-the-match performance as the Dragons won 16-21 at the Ospreys.

Wales have just four fit back-rowers ahead of the Australia game and are expected to call up another player.

Faletau, Gavin Thomas and Josh Turnbull are the leading contenders, but the latter two picked up knocks in the weekend's Magners League fixtures.

Rob McCusker withdrew from the Wales squad last week to undergo a hernia operation, while Ryan Jones will miss Saturday's Test against the Wallabies because of a calf problem.

Jones could return for the 13 November game against South Africa, while Wasps number eight Andy Powell could also be called into the squad ahead of that match as it is within the International Rugby Board's official Test window.

Meanwhile Faletau - the son of former Ebbw Vale and Tonga lock forward Kuli - could be fast-tracked into Test contention, with Martyn Williams, Jonathan Thomas, Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate the only fit Wales back-rowers ahead of Saturday's Millennium Stadium match.

Faletau senior was part of the first wave of Pacific Islands players to make their mark in the Welsh game and featured in the 1999 World Cup at the age of 35.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said that Toby Faletau was in contention for the summer tour of New Zealand, but he aggravated a foot injury playing for Wales Under-20 at the Junior World Cup in Argentina and only returned to action in mid-October.

"We've seen this for quite some time from Faletau," said Turner after his player's stunning performance against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

"He's been out for six months and all of a sudden he's back like this, he's a good one for the future.

"From a standing start he just destroyed some very good defenders [for his try].

"[If a Wales call-up comes] it's good for us and good for him [even though] we'll lose him for the LV= Cup games."

Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys was also impressed by Faletau.

"He's excellent," said the former Wales captain and hooker. "We knew about him a couple of years ago as a young kid. He's an outstanding prospect. He took his try very, very well but also defended superbly."

Whoever Wales select, they will face a formidable challenge against Australia who claimed a superb 26-24 win over New Zealand on Saturday in a match of breathtaking intensity.

"They've taken over as the best team in the world, to my mind," said Turner.

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards was equally impressed, saying: "The result wasn't a surprise to me. The Australians have been improving throughout the Tri Nations and are a young team who are only going to get better with experience.

"They may not technically be the number one team in the world but, having just beaten the highest-ranked side at a neutral venue, you have to say they are now the team to beat.

"It was a great game of rugby in Hong Kong and just showed the attacking threats Wales will have to deal with."

Australia coach Robbie Deans welcomed the result while trying to keep his side's feet on the ground.

"It's a win," said Deans. "It's great for us, it's important for us for what's going to be a tough block of rugby games in the northern hemisphere.

"Flying there is a lot more pleasurable with a win than a loss but that's all it is.

"While it's not easy at times, we don't live in a bubble. We're aware of expectations just as we have expectations, hopes and ambitions ourselves. This is just a game along the way."

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