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Howley wants fearless display from Wales

Rob Howley has stressed the need for Wales to "play without fear" in Saturday's Millennium Stadium cauldron when Wales chase RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam glory.

Victory over France would give Wales their second championship crown and Grand Slam of coach Warren Gatland's four-year reign. Wales assistant coach Howley is relishing the challenge that awaits Gatland's 2011 World Cup semi-finalists.

"We have experience and the new kids on the block, and it is important we go out and play without fear," Howley said. "Every game you play for Wales as a youngster - and we've got a fair amount of youngsters - you become more mature. They haven't got that baggage of losing games, and through that confidence of the World Cup we've gained a hell of a lot."

He added: "The one thing that is special about this side is that they find a way. In the last 15 minutes of a match you expect them to go on and win the game. That mental toughness has sometimes been lacking in previous sides throughout the last couple of decades.

"We back ourselves in dogged situations. There will be times will have to dig in and dog it out, and this team finds a way to go and win."

Howley believes the back-row battle is likely to have a major bearing on the outcome as Wales' young guns of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau take on the powerful French trio Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy.

"I think it will be one hell of a battle between the six, seven and eights," he continued.

"You've got the ingredients of ball-carrying, decision-making, physicality at the breakdown, the tackling element. That component of the game will be a joy to watch.

"And don't underestimate the influence of the Welsh support. In 2008, coming into this stadium, the support in the streets, the singing, the clapping, for me it just makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck.

"I've always said the crowd is worth seven points to the home side. I am sure the players are looking forward to playing in front of the best supporters in world rugby."

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