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Rees expects tough Italian job


Matthew Rees

Matthew Rees

Matthew Rees

Matthew Rees believes some Wales players will face a "test of character" against RBS 6 Nations opponents Italy in Rome.

The Wales captain leads a team high on experience with individuals like Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips and Ryan Jones lining up at Stadio Flaminio. But there are also half-a-dozen players who will not have experienced the compact 33,000-capacity venue previously in their careers, a ground where Wales lost on previous Six Nations visits in 2003 and 2007.

"It's a great crowd to play in front of, but we know how desperate the Italians will be to get a victory," said Scarlets hooker Rees. "It is great for us, a test of character for certain players who haven't experienced the challenge of playing an international in Rome before."

Rees is quick to acknowledge Wales' task this weekend has not been made any easier by England demolishing the Azzurri 59-13 at Twickenham two weeks ago.

He added: "It's a massive challenge for us out there. They are on the back of a heavy defeat by England, so we are going to have the backlash of that.

"England haven't done us any favours. Any team who loses by 50-odd points on the road will see a home game next up as being crucial.

"We've won there before, we know what they are going to bring, so it is a matter of matching them physically and making sure we do the hard graft early on for our backs to hopefully score some tries."

Wales full-back Lee Byrne, meanwhile, has urged Wales to follow up their 24-6 victory over Scotland a fortnight ago with another away win.

"That victory in Scotland won't mean anything if we don't go on and get another win in Rome," he said. "We have come unstuck against Italy before, and we must definitely have our game heads on.

"It's all about learning the lessons of the past and realising that Italy are improving year on year."

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