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Italy v Wales talking points

Wales kick off their 2017 RBS 6 Nations campaign on Sunday when they tackle Italy in Rome.

Here, Press Association Sport identifies key talking points heading into a fixture that has seen Wales claim 10 successive victories.

HOW WILL WALES FARE UNDER A NEW CAPTAIN?

However much things change, they can often stay the same, and that is exactly the case with Wales' switch of leader. Sam Warburton led his country in a record 49 Tests, which included two Six Nations titles and a World Cup semi-final, but in Alun Wyn Jones, Wales possess a ready-made successor. Jones has been an inspired, motivational figure throughout his 105-cap Test career, and the skipper move should prove seamless. The fact that Wales possess the last two Lions Test captains in their ranks says it all.

WALES NEED TO BLAST OUT OF THE BLOCKS

Wales have won three Six Nations Grand Slams - 2005, 2008 and 2012 - but the other nine seasons between 2005 and now show what slow starters in tournaments they can be. Wales can reflect on five opening-weekend defeats and a draw outside of those title-winning campaigns, while their autumn Tests are often notable for them improving as the series unfolds. With England looming next week, Wales must hit the ground running on Sunday, otherwise they could quickly fall off the pace.

ITALY UNDER CONOR O'SHEA = SAME OLD, OR GREEN SHOOTS OF REVIVAL?

No-one ever said it would be easy for Italy when they stepped on to the Six Nations stage, but just 12 victories from 85 Tests and 11 last-placed finishes in 17 seasons underline just what a struggle it has often been. Former Harlequins boss O'Shea is now at the helm, and he has already made a mark, with the Azzurri claiming a famous victory over South Africa during their 2016 autumn campaign. Italy have not beaten Wales for 10 years, but O'Shea will not be fazed by history, viewing Sunday's encounter as the ideal opportunity to make a statement.

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