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Faletau dismisses Zinzan's critique

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017 By Nick Purewal

Taulupe Faletau has brushed aside jibes from ex-All Black Zinzan Brooke that he does not boast enough "mongrel edge" to shine for the British and Irish Lions.

Brooke revealed "reservations" about Faletau in an early shot across the bows from New Zealand ahead of the three-Test Lions tour.

Faletau dismissed that criticism however, as Warren Gatland's men continue to gear up for Saturday's tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.

"That's up to him to say what he wants to say," Faletau said of Brooke's criticism.

"I've got no reply for him to be honest. It's his opinion and I'll just go about doing my job."

Billy Vunipola's shoulder injury has scotched the chance for Faletau and his two Vunipola cousins all to grace the same Lions team this summer.

Saracens' wrecking-ball No.8 Vunipola's tour-ending injury deprives the Lions of one of the globe's outstanding talents - but Faletau insists the northern hemisphere outfit can cope in his absence.

"It is a huge blow, I'm not going to deny that," said Faletau of Billy Vunipola's injury.

"He has been playing well for a long time. But the quality of back-row here is more than capable of covering any injuries."

Billy Vunipola withdrew himself from the Lions tour, feeling unable to delay any longer a shoulder operation to cure a long-standing injury.

The Lions' management later admitted they had attempted to convince Vunipola to try to delay surgery still further, but were left praising the Saracens star's honesty in admitting the severity of his problem.

Faletau hailed captain Sam Warburton as a calming influence on the Lions squad, admitting surprise on learning the Cardiff star does suffer from nerves before big games.

"He puts the high expectations of himself onto the team," said Faletau of Warburton.

"It is everybody's expectations to come out here and do a good job. That's what he believes in and what he tries to get the boys rallying around.

"He doesn't really talk as much as maybe someone else does, he's one of those that leads by example, that's his kind of thing.

"And as a collective we're together in what we believe in."

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