2017 Lions player retrospective: Taulupe Faletau
A second British & Irish Lions Tour for Taulupe Faletau saw the Bath No.8 start all three Test matches against the All Blacks, coming of age four years after first pulling on the famous red jersey.
Back in 2013, Faletau made five starts for the Lions in addition to coming on as a replacement on two occasions, but missed out on a place in the Test squad – something he was quick to rectify this time round.
Concerns were raised when Billy Vunipola was forced to withdraw from the squad prior to flying out to New Zealand, but Faletau more than held his own as he went toe-to-toe with 100-cap All Black Kieran Read, holding the Kiwi skipper at bay from the word go.
His try in the second Test in Wellington may have been his only score of the Tour, but it proved to be a game-changing one, swinging the momentum in the favour of the tourists as they set up the winner-takes-all showdown that was the third and final Test.
Faletau started the Tour as he meant to go on, producing a try-saving tackle on Inga Finau in the very first match, and from there on brought his skills and presence to the back of the scrum expertly.
In total, Faletau played 480 minutes throughout the duration of the Tour, making 76 tackles and 56 carries for 173 metres.
Away from the pitch, he found time to visit Kensington hospital alongside Anthony Watson and Ross Moriarty, and even took on the daunting bungy jump in Queenstown.