Six Nations 2015: Wales can win championship, says Faletau
Newport Gwent Dragons number 8 insists an opening round defeat is not the end of their campaign, citing their 2013 success
Taulupe Faletau insists Wales can still become Six Nations champions this season.
Warren Gatland’s men came up short in a 21-16 defeat to bitter rivals England after a poor second performance at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.
It was a match which started brightly for the home side as they stormed into a 10-0 lead, partly in thanks to Faletau’s work at the back of the scrum and pass wide to Rhys Webb to score the game’s opening try.
We just have to take each game as it comes, as we have before in this tournament after we’ve lost the first game and come back to lift the trophy.
But delight turned to misery as Wales were outmuscled in the second 40 minutes, not too dissimilar to their opening round defeat to Ireland in 2013.
As with two years ago, Wales have three matches on the road this campaign and it doesn’t get much easier as they head north to Edinburgh to take on a resurgent Scotland at BT Murrayfield.
A difficult trip to Paris and potential banana-skin clash with Italy in Rome are also on the cards either side of a home clash against reigning champions Ireland, but many in Gatland’s current squad have been here before.
See 2013 again, when they racked up four successive wins after the Ireland defeat, which included the stunning 30-3 win over Grand Slam-chasing England in the final match at the Millennium Stadium to retain the title, but the Newport Gwent Dragons number eight knows Wales have what it takes to overturn opening round defeats.
“It didn’t go our way this time, but that’s happened before and we’ve managed to crawl back,” Faletau said.
“That is what we will be looking to do again this year.
“We just have to take each game as it comes, as we have before in this tournament after we’ve lost the first game and come back to lift the trophy.
“We just have to stick at what we are doing and fix a few things, then hopefully we will start to go in the right direction again.”
Wales have never lost to Scotland during the Gatland era, but a revitalised Scotland full of belief and unshackled under new head coach Vern Cotter now pose more of a threat than they did when they went down 51-3 in Cardiff last March after Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg was sent-off in the first half for a elbowing Dan Biggar.
Like Wales, Scotland are disappointed after an opening-round 15-8 defeat to France, but there were plenty of warning signs in that match that the Dark Blues mean business in this campaign, even if questions remain over their indiscipline.
“The boys were disappointed,” Faletau added.
“We will stick together and bounce back for Scotland.
“There is still a chance for us to win the tournament. We just need to do the hard work.”
Gatland is waiting on injury updates to Northampton Saints wing George North, who was concussed twice during the defeat to England, albeit the second incident was missed by the management and medical stff, and tighthead prop Samson Lee, who also went off with concussion.
While North’s potential absence could be mitigated by drafting in young Newport Gwent Dragons wing Hallam Amos if Scarlets full-back/wing Liam Williams is already deployed in the back three or on the bench, losing Lee’s scrummaging power would be a bigger blow for Wales with Edinburgh Rugby’s Alasdair Dickinson one of the Guinness PRO12’s in-form looseheads and certain to start for Scotland if fit.
Both players have to be symptom-free six days before their next match, so their status should be known later today.
Gatland is due to name his team to take on Scotland on Wednesday.