Wales Get Huge Taulupe Faletau Boost As World Cup Departure Looms

Some good news for Wales fans ahead of their World Cup campaign – Taulupe Faletau is back in training.

The Wales and Cardiff No.8 did not play in any of the recent warm-up matches because of a calf injury and there were even concerns he might not be ready for the opening game against Fiji a week on Sunday.

But Faletau has trained fully for the first time this week and Wales management are confident he will be ready for their opener in Bordeaux.

Lions star Faletau is oner of the very few players in the squad who would be an almost automatic selection provided he is fit.

Gareth Anscombe is another player who sat out all Wales’ August campaign due to a thumb injury, but it is hoped he too can be in contention to face Fiji.

Co-captain Dewi Lake, lock Dafydd Jenkins and Ryan Elias are also all recovering from knocks with an update on those players expected when Wales arrive in France.

The Wales squad are busy packing suitcases in readiness for their departure on Sunday.

Sixteen members of Gatland’s 33-strong World Cup squad, including co-captains Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake, have never previously set foot on rugby union’s biggest global stage.

But there are also four cap centurions in George North, who heads to a fourth World Cup, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Faletau, plus another six with more than 50 caps.

Fiji are first up for Wales in Bordeaux, followed by Portugal, Australia and Georgia. Portugal are the only team not in Wales’ World Cup group of four years ago.

“The beauty of this World Cup is that we do get some more breathing space with the time between games,” says head coach Warren Gatland.

“The first game and the second games are a short turnaround, and then we’ve got an eight-day turnaround to Australia and then 13 days to the Georgia game.

“In the past it has been a challenge when you have had a four-day turnaround. It is a little bit more of a luxury in terms of that, so hopefully it gives us an opportunity to keep players fit and to freshen some players up between games.”

Fiji are rated a highest-ever seventh in the world rankings – three places above Wales – following their stunning 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham last week.

Gatland added: “We are pretty clear how we want to play against Fiji. We know how dangerous they are.

“They will have had five warm-up games before the World Cup, so they are going to be rugby-fit. We are all well aware of how important that first game is.

“If you can win that game you get some momentum, and then you can get some confidence, and hopefully you have a chance to win the group.”