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Gatland happy to play waiting game

Warren Gatland believes patience could be a virtue when unbeaten Wales step up their bid for the RBS 6 Nations title on Saturday.

Italy are next on the agenda for Gatland's Grand Slam-chasing team, the penultimate hurdle before concluding their Six Nations campaign against France in in 10 days' time. Wales have never lost to the Azzurri at home - the average Six Nations scoreline against Italy in Cardiff is 39-14 - but Gatland knows his players must be prepared for a battle.

"I think all the games Italy have played in the Six Nations this season they have been in the games at half-time," Wales coach Gatland said.

"They should have won against England, and for us it is just about saying that if it's close at half-time not to panic.

"It is a game of 80 minutes, and things might happen for us in the second half. We've prepared this week for that first 20 or 30 minutes being a war of attrition up front. We need to be accurate, but also potentially match the physicality they are going to come at us with.

"I think we have picked a really strong side to face Italy. We have a great work ethic in the squad, and I can't emphasise enough how professional these players are in terms of the way they prepare and the extras they do afterwards.

"I think they are a real credit to Wales and to Welsh rugby. It's a good place for the coaches to be in, and for the players to be part of a confident squad that is working really hard together."

Gatland, meanwhile, is hopeful that captain Sam Warburton will be fit to lead the World Cup semi-finalists against France.

World Cup skipper Warburton will miss his second game of this season's Six Nations after being sidelined for the Italy encounter.

Prop Gethin Jenkins takes over as skipper from flanker Warburton, who has a knee problem suffered during the opening stages of Wales' Triple Crown-clinching victory over England 11 days ago.


From Belfast Telegraph