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Jonathan Davies: Alex King has refreshed Wales back-line

Jonathan Davies has hailed the impact of Wales' Englishman-in-residence Alex King prior to their RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy on Sunday.

Former Wasps and England fly-half King will spend this season's tournament seconded to Wales as attack coach, working alongside interim boss Rob Howley.

And Wales centre Davies says that King, who will join French Top 14 club Montpellier's coaching staff later this year, has made a mark.

"In the autumn Tests, if you look at how we performed, we had a couple of grey areas - whether it was the time for backs to attack or to work the forwards in certain areas," he said.

"It's just the clarity in those grey areas, when we weren't sure whether it was time for us, as a back-line to go, or the forwards.

"He has put faith in us as a back-line, and it is down to us to make good decisions on the field.

"Alex has come in, he has refreshed it and he's just given us a licence to play what is in front of us and back ourselves. He has given us a lot of confidence to go out and play.

"He has been very enjoyable to work with, and he is a fresh face. He has a new look on things, and hopefully that will help us build and keep moving forward."

If Wales maintain their recent rate of scoring against Italy - 128 points in the last two Six Nations Tests - then King will certainly rate this weekend as a case of mission accomplished.

With bonus points now on offer in the Six Nations - and Wales needing to make a flying start ahead of next weekend's Cardiff showdown against England - King's charges will relish any chance to cut loose.

Rain is forecast in Rome for Sunday, though, which might dampen things as an attacking spectacle, while Italy also go into battle following a stunning and historic victory over South Africa less than three months ago as new coaching supremo Conor O'Shea made an immediate impression.

"Every team has a proud home record and wants to defend their own patch, so we have to make sure that we go out there and play accurately," Davies added.

"We want to start the campaign with a good result and a good performance.

"They have some good individual players, and it's going to be tough for us, but we have to have a lot of confidence in our own ability.

"When the ball comes, it's about being accurate with it and using it effectively. It's important for us to get a good start, and then the performance will come."

Wales concluded preparations with a session for their kickers at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, after which skills coach Neil Jenkins underlined that Wales expect a considerable challenge from O'Shea's men.

"Maybe looking at the scores of the last couple of years, the games have blown out a bit, but the games have been tough from the word go and we have had to earn the right to play and earn the right to score the points we did," he said.

"Tomorrow is not going to be any different, and we know it is going to be tough for long periods of the game.

"We have got to bring our A-game, be ready to play from anywhere and ready to play a territory game as well.

"Italy had a fantastic win against South Africa, and we have just got to focus on the first minute to the last and implement our game-plan on them.

"Test match rugby is all about winning. If we can get over the line with any sort of win tomorrow, we will be more than happy."


From Belfast Telegraph