Taulupe Faletau: Belief and confidence key for Wales at World Cup
Taulupe Faletau has highlighted Wales’ sense of belief and confidence as they close in on a fourth successive Rugby World Cup quarter-final appearance.
Australia’s defeat against Fiji means that Wales are four points clear at the top of Pool C.
They need a maximum of seven points from two more games – against the Wallabies next Sunday and then Georgia – to guarantee a last-eight spot as group winners.
And that would maintain their impressive record under head coach Warren Gatland of reaching the knockout phase in every World Cup campaign he has overseen.
“With the work we have done we are very confident in the group of what we can do,” number eight Faletau said.
“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 total 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 World Cup action, Wales and Australia are familiar rivals, having played each other seven times.
And while Australia lead that particular series 4-3, Wales have won three of the last four in all competitions.
Faletau added: “We have got to concentrate on ourselves. 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.”
Faletau, who has won 102 caps, is two games into his return from a calf muscle injury that ruled him out of Wales’ three-Test preparation schedule.
He highlighted an impressive display against Portugal by claiming Wales’ bonus-point touchdown, while he also made a try-saving tackle earlier in the contest.
A further step up from the 32-year-old can now be realistically expected, and Gatland said: “The more game-time he has and a string of games, he gets better.
“That is why, even with the short turnaround (between Fiji and Portugal) we wanted to give him some more rugby.
“I thought he did some really good things, and he will continue to get better with more rugby.”