Toby Faletau is relishing his personal battle with Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip in tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium.
Faletau packs down at No.8 as Wales begin their Championship defence against their Celtic cousins.
The duo are two of the front-runners to pull on a jersey in the Lions back-row in June, with Heaslip also touted as a potential captain.
And Faletau is eager to lock horns with his rival as Wales bid to halt a seven match losing streak.
“There are a lot of top quality number eights out there and Jamie is up with the best,” said Faletau.
“Ireland have named him captain for a reason because he always leads by example.
“He is the one that leads the charge for them, he carries a lot of ball and is aggressive in everything in he does in both attack and defence.
“There’s a personal thing that you take into the game – everyone wants to win their battle with their opposite number and if I can have the better of their captain then great.
“Ireland always have a quality back row and we know that it’s going to be a massive challenge.
“I suppose we might have a slightly more mobile back row but they can also get around the field, so it’s going to be a great battle.”
Faletau will pack down behind regional teammate Andrew Coombs. The 28-year-old was playing semi-professional rugby while working as a software salesman four years ago and Faletau expects a gigantic display.
“It’s brilliant news and I am so happy for him, added: Faletau.
“It’s well deserved because he has worked so hard and done well since coming into camp.
“He has been exactly the same as he is at the Dragons, he worked really hard and put everything in.
“He’s the sort of player that you’d definitely rather play with than against, though he hasn’t quite been as aggressive in training as he is in a game!
“It’s great that there is another Dragons player in the side and I am sure he will do well.”