TAULUPE Faletau has brushed aside jibes from ex-All Black Zinzan Brooke that he does not boast enough "mongrel edge" to shine for the British and Irish Lions.

Brooke revealed "reservations" about Bath back row Faletau in an early shot across the bows from New Zealand ahead of this summer's three-Test Lions tour.

Faletau dismissed that criticism however, as Warren Gatland's men continue to gear up for Saturday's tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, in which Faletau and Bath colleagues Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson were all named in the starting line-up.

"That's up to him to say what he wants to say," Faletau said of Brooke's criticism.

"I've got no reply for him to be honest. It's his opinion and I'll just go about doing my job."

Billy Vunipola's shoulder injury has scotched the chance for Faletau and his two Vunipola cousins all to grace the same Lions team this summer.

Saracens' wrecking-ball number eight Vunipola's tour-ending injury deprives the Lions of one of the globe's outstanding talents - but Faletau insists the northern hemisphere outfit can cope in his absence.

"It is a huge blow, I'm not going to deny that," said Faletau, of Vunipola's injury.

"He has been playing well for a long time. But the quality of back-row here is more than capable of covering any injuries."

Asked if he will miss the chance to feature alongside his cousins, the Vunipola brothers, Faletau continued: "It is definitely a shame. We all wanted to be on this tour together and to take the pitch together for the first time in a long time. It wasn't meant to be.

"It's always evident what Billy does; he just batters people when he gets the ball and it takes a lot of people to take him down.

"He has a huge influence on games he plays in."

Faletau hailed captain Sam Warburton as a calming influence on the Lions squad, admitting surprise on learning the Cardiff star does suffer from nerves before big games.

"He puts the high expectations of himself onto the team," said Faletau of Warburton.

"It is everybody's expectations to come out here and do a good job. That's what he believes in and what he tries to get the boys rallying around.

"He doesn't really talk as much as maybe someone else does, he's one of those that leads by example, that's his kind of thing.

"And as a collective we're together in what we believe in.

"Throughout the time he's captained me he's handled himself amazingly in all the situations he's been put in, obviously captaining Wales at such a young age and then the Lions. With the help of other leaders in the squads he's done a good job.

"He speaks about being nervous but he's never come across like that to me.

"I think he's settled into it more and more as the years have gone on but I've never been there and thought he's nervous or anything. He's always calm."

Faletau has taken a tour role helping organise rooming plans, and admitted enjoying Joe Marler's getting-to-know-you grilling.

England prop Marler drew up a list of quickfire questions for Faletau to accelerate the Lions' vital relationship building.

"That was pretty cool actually; he's pretty funny, he was straight in and sat up, and said 'right, I've questions for you'," said Faletau of Marler.

"It was a good laugh. He's a funny bloke and it worked really well."