Best still to come from Faletau

British & Irish Lions No8 Toby Faletau will be an even better player by the time the Lions next tour the southern hemisphere according to his new club coach. [more]

Best still to come from Faletau

British & Irish Lions No8 Toby Faletau will be an even better player by the time the Lions next tour the southern hemisphere according to his new club coach.

Faletau started at the back of the Lions pack for the historic third Test win over the Qantas Wallabies last month as Warren Gatland’s men secured series success in style in Sydney.

The Welshman was unsurprisingly a target for a number of high-profile sides both at home and abroad following his return from Australia but has now committed his future to the Newport Gwent Dragons for at least another two seasons.

And Lyn Jones, who took the reins at Rodney Parade this summer, is convinced the 22-year-old will be an even more dominant force when Britain and Ireland’s elite head to New Zealand in 2017, even if he isn’t still at the Dragons four years down the line.

"Toby is still young. You tend to see the best of players in their mid-to-late 20s when they have the knowledge behind them and more empathy for the game," said Jones.

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"I have seen that with the likes of Ryan Jones, Shane Williams and Alun Wyn Jones. Toby had a dip in form last winter but has returned to become the leading No8 in the northern hemisphere.

"Toby signing shows he's confident that he can improve here. We want to help him improve and grow again. Young rugby players want to earn money but they also want to make sure their future is a happy one, a safe one and a secure one. They want to win things and I think Toby coming to Gwent Dragons can help us get up and challenge for silverware in a few years.

"There is always a marketplace for quality players like Toby, and maybe in the future he will want to venture into that market. What's important now is that he enjoys the fruits from his summer but also puts that behind him because there are different challenges for him as a regional and international player."

Faletau is convinced that staying put is in his best interests both on and off the field despite the fact that a number of his Welsh colleagues have left the country in recent times.

Regional team-mate Dan Lydiate and fellow Lions Test star Jamie Roberts have both headed to Racing Metro for the new season, while wing George North has left the Scarlets for Northampton.

Mike Phillips is currently plying his trade at Bayonne, with 2009 Lions Lee Byrne and James Hook at Clermont Auvergne and Perpignan respectively.

Tour skipper Sam Warburton and HSBC Player of the Series Leigh Halfpenny have both been linked with moves to France so Faletau’s decision to remain in the Principality is a huge boost for Wales and Lions head coach Gatland as well as the Dragons.

"I talked to my dad and we both thought that staying here was the best thing for me at the moment. Hopefully I will get managed better at the Dragons than I would have elsewhere," Faletau told Media Wales.

"I talked to my family and we were all happy, so I thought 'why not?' There were options out there but I'm glad to be staying and the family will have to put up with me for another few years.

"Off-field stuff is just as important as the on field and I'll just see where I am in a couple of years' time."

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