Wales ‘very hopeful’ Taulupe Faletau will recover from injury for World Cup

By Sports Desk July 28, 2023

Wales are confident Taulupe Faletau will recover from injury in time for the World Cup, even though the 100-times capped back-rower may not play before the tournament.

Faletau stayed at home to nurse a calf complaint as Warren Gatland’s squad headed for a pre-World Cup training camp in Turkey.

The Cardiff number eight reached a century of caps against France in March and remains a vital component of the Wales side at the age of 32.

But the British and Irish Lion may not be risked ahead of September’s World Cup in France in two warm-up games with England and one against South Africa next month.

“He’s coming back, and in his rehab programme he’s going really well,” said Wales forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys, speaking from the squad’s current base in Antalya.

“So it’s just a question of do you drag him out here to do some stuff, or can he do it back home and spend a lot more time with his family?

“The decision was made that he can do the same rehab process back home. It’s looking positive for him.”

Asked if playing no part in the August games would deny Faletau – who missed the 2019 World Cup in Japan through injury – a place in the squad, Humphreys said: “If he doesn’t feature it’s not going to necessarily rule him out.

“I’m not sure if he will play (in the warm-up games). Hopefully he will, but I don’t think it’s something we’ll massively push if he’s not 100 per cent.

“The rehab is going well so we’re very hopeful he will be available for World Cup selection.”

The uncapped Taine Plumtree has emerged as a World Cup back-row option after confirming his move from New Zealand to Wales.

Plumtree, the 23-year-old son of former All Blacks assistant coach John, was born in Swansea when his father was working in Wales and the New Zealand Under-20 international will play for the Scarlets next season.

“He’s a genuine contender and hopefully we’ll see him in these next three games,” Humphreys said.

“We haven’t brought him in just to gain experience. We’ve brought him in because we feel he can add something to us.

“He’s a six, he’s a big man, and he’s very athletic as you’d expect from someone coming from New Zealand. He’s got a very good rugby sense.

“We are not blessed with people of that stature in that position. We looked at him, we liked what we saw, and he was keen to come over.

“He came off the plane jet-lagged from New Zealand, came to Switzerland, and the training was brutal over there. His first couple of sessions was an eye-opener but we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen. ”

Temperatures have exceeded over 40 degrees Celsius since Wales arrived in southern Turkey.

They will spend a few more days there before returning home to prepare for their first World Cup warm-up game against England in Cardiff on August 5.

Humphreys said: “It was really hot when we first got here and a lot of humidity.

“Then we saw the temperature was dropping but the humidity went up. I’m not sure which one I prefer.

“It’s incredibly tough training in over 40 degrees but it’s exactly why we came here.

“The World Cup starts in six weeks and it’s an opportunity for players here to put their hands up and for us to find a way forward.”

Wales must trim their current 48-man squad down to 33 for the World Cup, with their opening game against Fiji in Bordeaux on September 10.

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