Rugby World Cup 2023: Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau finding form as Australia loom in Lyon

Rugby World Cup 2023: Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau finding form as Australia loom in Lyon

Taulupe Faletau on the charge with Dillon Lewis in support
Only Taulupe Faletau (centre), Louis Rees-Zammit and Jac Morgan have started both World Cup wins for Wales against Fiji and Portugal in the 2023 tournament
Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon Date: Sunday, 24 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau says he is growing into the World Cup after returning from a calf injury.

Faletau, 32, is two games into his comeback after being ruled of Wales’ three warm-up matches in August.

He highlighted an impressive display in the 28-8 win against Portugal by claiming Wales’ bonus-point try, while he also made a try-saving tackle.

“The more I play, the better I feel and can get myself into the games,” said Faletau.

The Cardiff number eight, who has played 102 internationals for Wales, has described the squad’s sense of belief and confidence after taking maximum bonus-point wins against Fiji and Portugal.

Wales are closing in on a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final appearance – victory over Australia in Lyon on Sunday would clinch a knockout place.

“With the work we have done we are very confident in the group of what we can do,” said Faletau.

“That is our approach going forward with each game – knowing the work we have put in and backing that.

“The togetherness we have built in that time together will put us in good stead.”

While Wales are in control of their World Cup destiny, Eddie Jones’ Australia have entered the last-chance saloon following a 22-15 loss to Fiji.

It was Fiji’s first triumph against the Wallabies since 1954, and Australia are hovering on the brink of a pool-stage exit for the first time.

When it comes to the World Cup action, Wales and Australia are familiar rivals, having played each other seven times.

And while Australia lead that particular series 5-2, Wales have won three of the last four in all competitions.

“We have got to concentrate on ourselves,” said Faletau.

“There will be a lot to work on from the Portugal game and we will look to make those improvements going into Australia.

“With the time we have had together there is definitely belief within the group. In each game we believe we can get a result against any team on the day.

“We will take confidence from the two wins, but there is definitely plenty to work on going into Australia.”

What is at stake for Wales in Lyon

Pool C standings

Australia’s defeat against Fiji means Wales are four points clear at the top of Pool C.

If teams finish on the same amount of match points at the end of the group stages, it will depend on a series of criteria.

That starts with head-to-head results before points difference, try difference, points scored and tries scored, in that order, come into play.

Wales’ destiny is in their hands as they need a maximum of seven points from two more games – against the Wallabies and Georgia – to guarantee winning the group.

If Wales defeat Australia they will secure quarter-final qualification by definitely finishing in the top two in the pool.

That would maintain their impressive record under head coach Warren Gatland of reaching the knockout phase in every World Cup campaign he has overseen for Wales.

A defeat by Australia and not picking up a losing bonus point would mean Wales’ fate being taken out of their hands as the pool stage progresses.

Wales’ Pool C campaign ends against Georgia in Nantes on Saturday, 7 October.

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