Taulupe Faletau: Wales to bounce back against South Africa

Faletau confident of a reversal of fortunes

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The Independent Online

Taulupe Faletau has no doubt Wales can pick themselves up for Saturday’s meeting with South Africa after losing yet again to world champions New Zealand. But injuries and unavailability – particularly in the loosehead prop department – look set to stretch the hosts’ 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.

Ospreys forward Nicky Smith suffered a pectoral muscle injury in the 34-16 defeat to the All Blacks and regular first choice loosehead Gethin Jenkins missed the game with a hamstring problem.

Despite those problems, however, Faletau remains confident that Wales can make up for Saturday’s reverse by overcoming the Springboks.

“We are disappointed because we thought we could get something out of the game, but with a bit of luck it will go our way against South Africa,” said the Wales No 8. “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.”

Best: mental toughness is a winning quality for Ireland

Joe Schmidt’s “ruthless” selection policy has forced Ireland to shed mental weaknesses that were costing victories, according to Rory Best.

Hooker Best admitted Ireland might well have failed in previous campaigns to close out a game such as Saturday’s 26-23 victory over Australia.

“Compared to where we were 12 months ago mentally, we stayed in,” said Best. “If you look at it, 12 months ago we went mistake after mistake, mental switch-offs if you like, but this time round in a similar position, we didn’t.”

Head coach Schmidt delayed medical treatment to guide Ireland to their first autumn Test series clean sweep for eight years, before being rushed to hospital to have his appendix removed.

Kiwi-born Cowan is earning his Scotland jersey

Blair Cowan believes he is winning over the doubters after his try and man-of-the-match display for Scotland in Saturday’s 37-12 win over Tonga. The New Zealand-born flanker, who qualifies for Scotland through his Argyll-born mother, said: “I said when I first came into the squad that I wanted people to appreciate what I did in a Scotland jersey and I hope that is happening. I think I am progressing slowly with each match and I still think I have a lot to offer.”