9:11am Thursday 5th June 2014
TAULUPE Faletau has never played in South Africa but knows Wales will be greeted by a brutal welcoming party when they take on the Springboks in their own back yard.
The Newport Gwent Dragons number eight will be in the thick of the action against a South Africa side that are ranked second in the world behind the All Blacks but who top the pile when it comes to the physical side of the game.
The Boks will feature Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw and Tendai Mtawarira in their formidable pack.
Faletau has twice locked horns with South Africa, scoring a try in the 17-16 defeat in Wellington at the 2011 World Cup and a 24-15 reverse in Cardiff last autumn.
The 23-year-old knows that the Springboks will provide the sternest of challenges for Warren Gatland's men but says the only approach is to fight fire with fire.
"It will be my first time out there and South Africa will test everyone," said the 34-times capped back row forward. "They are one of the most physical sides out there. That's how they play – straight up.
"There is no secret about how they play or what they will do. They are very physical men. We just have to carry the ball – be hard and direct against them."
Faletau produced an impressive performance for the Probables against the Possibles in last Friday's trial match at the Liberty Stadium.
It was a display that emphasised how important the Dragons ace is to Wales, especially as they have back row problems ahead of the tour.
Opensides Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric are sidelined by shoulder injuries while blindside Dan Lydiate is struggling with a hamstring strain and has played just twice since the Six Nations.
"The back rowers we have got are quality enough to fill in for whoever is missing. They know what the challenges are ahead of us," said Faletau, who is joined in the squad by Lydiate, Josh Turnbull, Aaron Shingler and Dan Baker.
"Justin and Sam are specialist sevens. Maybe it changes against South Africa because they tend to play without one, but the boys who are capable of filling in for whoever is missing."
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