Sunday rugby headlines as Wales star targeted by Love Island and Faletau to be named despite problems

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Here are the latest rugby headlines from Wales and the wider world on Sunday, January 16.

Faletau to be picked despite issues

Wales are set to name No.8 blockbuster Taulupe Faletau in their Six Nations squad this week although he is out of the opening two matches with Ireland and Scotland, according to new reports.

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There are also fresh fears about George North missing the entire tournament, reckon The Rugby Paper.

They say Wayne Pivac will include Faletau when he names his Six Nations squad in the coming days.

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But within the Welsh camp it is thought Pivac is resigned to being without Faletau for the first two games and the Bath man is targeting the England showdown at the end of February for a return after ankle and calf problems.

Faletau is among nine Lions boasting a total of 775 Test matches between them who Wales will be without as they begin the defence of their title.

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Among them is North, who Pivac hoped would fill the centre void, but who reports claim ‘will struggle to make the closing matches in March at home to France and Italy.’

In North’s absence Nick Tompkins should start at 13 against Ireland, with Aaron Wainwright filling Faletau’s No.8 jersey.

Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Ken Owens, Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty, Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Lydiate will also be missing

Wales star wanted by Love Island

New Wales rugby star Christ Tshiunza is reportedly being targeted by producers of Love Island to appear on the next series of the show.

The Daily Mail say Tshiunza is wanted by those who pick the contestants after posting topless images on Instagram.

But he will turn down any approach to concentrate fully on his burgeoning rugby career.

The 20-year-old lock, who is studying at Exeter University while also playing for Exeter Chiefs, made his Wales debut in the autumn and is seen as having a huge future.

He could yet be named in the Six Nations squad on Tuesday.

Lions centre apologies

Lions and Ireland centre Bundee Aki has publicly apologised for his behaviour at the end of Connacht’s heartbreaking late defeat against Leicester Tigers.

The Irish team fell 29-28 thanks to Hosea Saumaki’s controversial last-gasp try.

Referee Mathieu Raynak allowed the score to stand, but Connacht players and fans were convinced Saumaki’s foot was in touch.

After the final whistle, there were ugly scenes as Aki confronted the official, loudly remonstrating.

But, when the dust had settled, he took to Twitter to say: “Like to apologise about my action towards the referee and officials.

“Absolutely not needed in this game. Emotions were high and that is certainly not an excuse for my actions. Definitely will take the loss on the chin and will be looking at myself.”

Ospreys take on Welsh coach as a consultant

Welsh coach Darren Edwards will work with the Ospreys for the remainder of the season as a defence consultant.

Richie Pugh left the region earlier this season to take up a post with the Wales Sevens programme, leaving a void in their coaching ticket.

Edwards, who worked with head coach Toby Booth at Bath, has now come on board to fill in for the remainder of the term.

“He’s someone that I worked with at Bath, in my previous life,” said Booth.

“Richie Pugh left for the Sevens programme and we need more coaches that we can trust, coaches that have done it before.

“He did phase one to three defence with me at Bath for a bit.

“We just need more experience and quality coaches in the building.

“He’ll be here until probably the end of the season whilst we go through the defence coach interview process.

“It’s a critical appointment.”

Ryan’s frustration

Dragons coach Dean Ryan was once again left a frustrated man after his side succumbed to yet another defeat.

The Welsh side’s 23-9 Challenge Cup defeat to Benetton was a ninth loss in 10 matches this season.

Ryan said: “The second half, particularly, I don’t think we controlled the ball either side of it. Breakdown wise they killed any momentum, but we also couldn’t deal with high ball from them and couldn’t hold on for long enough to get into a game that brings the like of Taine (Basham) and Aaron (Wainwright) to the fore.

“Unless we solve those issues, we can’t impose a game that we are seeking to do.

“We have got to get better at controlling instances when we are in possession so we can get to a game we want to play.

“But we also need to be able to diffuse a game that’s coming at us in the air and we weren’t able to do that.

“We weren’t competitive for long enough today to warrant any sort of result.”

Want the latest Welsh rugby news sent straight to you? Look no further.

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