Sam Warburton, captain of Wales (L) poses with the Six Nations trophy with Warren Gatland, coach of Wales, holding the Triple Crown trophy during the launch of the Six Nations rugby championship at the Hurlingham Club, 22 January. Reuters
Wales will look to kick off their Six Nations title defence with a victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 2.30 pm GMT (8 pm IST) start with live coverage on Sony Six in India. There is no official live streaming option in India, but viewers in the UK can live stream the action HERE. US viewers can catch all the action live online HERE, while Africa viewers can do the same HERE. Viewers in Australia can live stream the game HERE, while audience in New Zealand can do the same HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can watch the match via live streaming HERE.
Warren Gatland's men are again the favourites to clinch the Six Nations crown, and with Wales having 10 of last year's triumphant Lions team in the starting XV, Italy could be in for a long afternoon.
"I spoke to Rob [Howley] about last year [slow start to the tournament], and he said what they struggled when they only had 19 players who could train," Gatland said.
"This year we are in a pretty healthy state physically, ones who have got injuries are not too far away, so we hope that will have a positive impact on how we start.
"It's a tough tournament to win, it's a tournament of momentum and confidence and trying to get off to a good start.
"We are not afraid of physically taking on anyone, we back ourselves to stretch them and to play at the pace intensity we want to play at for the full 80 minutes."
Skipper Sam Warburton will be on the bench for the Six Nations opener, which leaves Alun Wyn Jones with the opportunity to captain the team.
Italy, as always, will rely on their talisman and skipper Sergio Parisse, and despite having a couple more experienced campaigners in their side, coach Jacques Brunel did not sound too confident of picking up a positive result against Wales.
"We have ambition but we remain fragile," Frenchman Brunel said. "In my two years here I have tried to achieve a balance between the traditional Italian virtues of combat, contact and defence and put more emphasis on the ability to play and create.
"We had a good balance in the last Six Nations but in the summer and the autumn we lost our defence. We need top level players to create internal competition and we still do not have enough of that.
"It will be difficult to match our achievements in the last championship because only two of our matches are at home and we start in Cardiff and Paris, and our goal must simply be to improve our level of play."
The other five nations might think they have Wales figured out by now, having watched Gatland's men time and again, but the Wales coach said their opponents might be in for a surprise or two in this year's campaign.
"We are always trying to develop our game and change it," Gatland said. "I was pretty prescriptive when I came in, stamping my mark. Since then it has been about growing the players and their decision-making, having the variation to play what is in front of them. In 2009, we gave away a lot of intellectual property and we opened up everything in Australia for people to see what we had done.
"It gives teams an opportunity to look closely at us but it gives us a lot of confidence knowing where we are as a team and a lot of the good things we are doing. The challenge as coaches is to not stay still and keep moving, improving and developing. I think people will see variation in our game this tournament and some changes from last year."
The last time the two sides met, Wales proved to be too strong for Italy in their own backyard in February last year, coming away with a 26-9 victory, and a similar result on Saturday will not come as too much of a surprise.
Teams: Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, George North, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau.
Italy: Luke McLean, Angelo Esposito, Michele Campagnaro, Alberto Sgarbi, Leonardo Sarto, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori, Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Sergio Parisse.
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