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Pressure is on Wales, warns Rees

Matthew Rees believes France will attempt to "bully" and "irritate" Wales in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam clash.

Even though France cannot win either prize they could still gatecrash Wales' planned Millennium Stadium party and history is also on Les Bleus' side, having won five previous Six Nations Tests and lost only one - the last time Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions four years ago - in Cardiff.

"The pressure is on us, we are at home, and France will probably want to come here and spoil the party," said former Wales captain and current hooker Rees, who wins his 50th cap. "We have to make sure we deliver on the day."

He added: "The changes France have made up-front, they are definitely going to try to come here and bully us. That is one thing we have got to be mindful of.

"They have picked a front-five to try to irritate us and see how we respond to that.

"One team that tries to bully you is South Africa, but as far as I am concerned whenever we have played at home I don't think there is any team that has come out on top.

"As a pack, we've got plenty of experience and hunger there. We are relishing the challenge."

Victory for Wales would not only confirm them as European champions, it would also underline the consistency coach Warren Gatland is striving for five months after securing a World Cup semi-final place in New Zealand.

Seven of this weekend's starting line-up are aged 24 or under, and Rees, who made his comeback from injury against Italy six days ago, is enthused by what Wales could go on to achieve.

"You can't underestimate how big the World Cup was for us as a nation, and after it we were always going to be favourites to win this Six Nations," Rees said. "In the past, we have always come in as underdogs, but I think this group of players have taken us to the next level."


From Belfast Telegraph