Wales forward Ross Moriarty has described his barnstorming performance against England as “the best game I have played.”
The Gloucester back-row star has reaped his reward for that display almost a fortnight ago by being retained at number eight for tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations appointment with Scotland at Murrayfield.
Taulupe Faletau, a British and Irish Test Lion with 63 Wales caps, again makes do with a place on the bench, such has been Moriarty’s form.
And he could hardly have timed his rise to prominence more expertly, given that the Lions tour squad for New Zealand will be announced in just two months’ time.
A YouTube tribute video of Moriarty in his pomp - the 22-year-old’s contribution against England included crunching tackles on Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell - is currently doing the rounds, further underlining what an impact he has made.
“I think, if I play as well as I know I can, I will just give coaches less reason to not let me be in the team, and that is what I felt I’ve done,” he said.
“That was probably the best I have ever felt in a Test match, and the best game I have played. It’s confidence, and things going my way.”
Asked about his tackling power, something which Itoje and Farrell certainly felt, Moriarty added: “It’s great, it’s always what you want to do!
“Even when you are playing for your local team, you put a big hit in and all your mates go a bit crazy. It’s always a good laugh.
“That’s the way I felt against England. Obviously, a lot more of my friends were behind me, and to have people enjoying what I was doing always feels good.
“Maro and I have known each other since the (England) Under-18s, when I played with him, so the only chance to get a hit on him before has been in training. It was nice to be able to do it in a game.
“I have a lot of respect for Maro. He is a great player.
“He has come such a long way since we finished playing age grades, and he has done a lot of good things. It was always going to be a battle between us. We had a laugh and a joke afterwards - it was nice to have a chat off the pitch.”
Moriarty’s father Paul and uncle Richard both played rugby union for Wales, and he said: “My uncle probably won’t criticise me, but my dad is in a position where he can. I take what he says on board.
“I know when I don’t perform as I should, but he makes sure I know it even more when he does tell me. He was happy with the way I played (against England).”
Moriarty will pack down in the back-row alongside Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric at Murrayfield, where Wales will chase a 10th successive victory in the fixture.
“I think it (run of wins) puts more pressure on us, because if you lose it then we will look a lot worse than anyone else,” he said.
“We don’t want to be the team that falls short. Hopefully, we will be bringing our best game. We have trained hard for it this week.
Wales will face a Scotland side showing five changes from the one beaten by France, with injuries sidelining key players like Greig Laidlaw, Josh Strauss and Sean Maitland.
Regular skipper Laidlaw has been ruled out of the Dark Blues’ three remaining RBS 6 Nations fixtures after injuring ankle ligaments against France two weeks ago
Scotland: Hogg (Glasgow); Seymour (Glasgow), Jones (Stormers), Dunbar (Glasgow), Visser (Harlequins), Russell (Glasgow), Price (Glasgow); Reid (Glasgow), Brown (Glasgow), Fagerson (Glasgow), R Gray (Toulouse), J Gray (Glasgow), Barclay (Scarlets, capt), Hardie (Edinburgh), Wilson (Glasgow).
Replacements: Ford (Edinburgh); Dell (Edinburgh), Berghan (Edinburgh), Swinson (Glasgow), Watson (Edinburgh), Pyrgos (Glasgow), Weir (Edinburgh), Bennett (Glasgow).
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