TOBY Faletau insists there is “still a chance” that Wales can be crowned RBS Six Nations champions this season and has warned Scotland that they are heading to BT Murrayfield this weekend intent on bouncing back from their 21-16 home defeat against England.
With three of their remaining four Six Nations games this term being away from home – including France in Paris later this month – Wales face a Herculean task to win the championship. But No 8 Faletau has cited recent Six Nations history – the 2013 tournament – when Wales lost their opening fixture at home to Ireland, but bounced back with four successive wins and claimed silverware with a record-breaking 30-3 victory over England.
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“The boys were disappointed, but we will stick together and bounce back for Scotland,” Faletau said. “There is still a chance for us to win the tournament. We just need to do the hard work. We just have to take each game as it comes, as we have before in this tournament after we’ve lost the first game.
“It didn’t go our way this time, but that’s happened before and we’ve managed to crawl back. That is what we will be looking to do again this year.
“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.”
While Wales lick their wounds, Scotland also suffered an opening weekend defeat, but they displayed some moments of real quality before losing 15-8 against France in Paris.
Wales have beaten Scotland seven times in succession during Warren Gatland’s coaching reign, including a 51-3 Millennium Stadium stroll last season after Stuart Hogg was sent off during the first half, but Sunday’s encounter promises to seriously threaten that 100 per cent record since Gatland took charge.
Wales will reassemble at their training base this week with wing George North set to headline the medical bulletins.
Rugby union’s world governing body has requested “a full report” from Welsh rugby chiefs after North suffered two blows to the head against England.
The juggernaut Wales wing took an accidental boot to the head from England lock Dave Attwood in the first half, and he was temporarily replaced by Liam Williams while he underwent the mandatory concussion assessment.
North subsequently returned to the field, but he then clashed heads with team-mate Richard Hibbard during the second half in what appeared to be a worse incident, and that episode has attracted World Rugby’s attention. North did not go off a second time. In a statement, World Rugby said: “Having undertaken an initial review of the broadcast footage, World Rugby is seeking to establish from the WRU (Welsh Rugby Union) whether all concussion management protocols were appropriately followed. Concussion management and education is at the heart of World Rugby’s player welfare strategy designed to protect players at all levels of the game and promote the very highest standards of education, coaching and medical care.”
The Wales squad management issued a medical update on Saturday that stated North was “currently symptom free”, although they have also viewed footage of the second incident.
“While George is currently symptom free, retrospective video review of the second incident identified the mechanism of injury which was previously unsighted on the field of play,” Wales said. “This review has warranted the medical team to manage the player as concussed, although the player currently has no signs and symptoms.
“He will now undertake a graduated return to play protocol with multiple follow-up cognitive and physical tests.”
Wales prop Samson Lee was concussed during the England game and he will have to undertake a graduated return to play protocol, while stand-off Dan Biggar suffered a cut to his forehead and full-back Leigh Halfpenny sustained a mild neck injury. Gatland is due to name his team for the Scotland match on Wednesday.