x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Byrne expects recovery

Wales are capable of claiming the big win they need against Italy in Rome to boost their hopes of retaining the Six Nations title, according to their fullback Lee Byrne.

Lee Byrne is anticipating a strong Welsh performance in Italy after their loss to France last month in the Six Nations.
Lee Byrne is anticipating a strong Welsh performance in Italy after their loss to France last month in the Six Nations.

Wales are more than capable of claiming the big win they need against Italy in Rome to boost their hopes of retaining the Six Nations title, according to their fullback Lee Byrne. But he also knows the champions need to eradicate the mistakes that riddled a below-par effort in Paris last month that saw their hopes of back-to-back Grand Slam titles ended by the 21-16 loss to France.

However, they can still claim a second successive title, courtesy of a comprehensive victory over the Azzurri, followed by success against Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in Cardiff next week. "We are going in with confidence," said Byrne, one of just six survivors from Paris alongside wing Shane Williams, centre Jamie Roberts, scrum-half Mike Phillips, lock Alun-Wyn Jones and No 8 Andy Powell. "We want to put things right which would set us up against Ireland, but we've got to make fewer mistakes and hopefully we will click.

"If we do, we are capable of winning by more than 20 points, especially if we make less mistakes. I suppose everyone has got a point to prove. Italy have conceded 100 points and 12 tries in this season's Six Nations, although they beat Wales when the countries last met at Stadio Flaminio two years ago. The key for Wales this weekend, though, is how they bounce back from losing at the Stade de France - their first Six Nations defeat of head coach Warren Gatland's reign.

"You are going to lose now and again, and we lost in France," added Byrne. "It was one of those days against France when things didn't go right, but hopefully we will correct it against Italy and it will be a different story. "But it's a good thing we are still in the championship and can win the Triple Crown." Meanwhile, the Italian prop Salvatore Perugini has acknowledged the tall order his side face if they are to shock Wales.

He said: "We are inferior to Wales. The foreign press are right about that and we should not be offended by it. "France, Wales and England can do without top players without losing quality and intensity in play. "People write that we can win here and there and that creates false expectations. "What we need to do is to fly low and if in doing that we manage to play the right game and if others underestimate us, then winning is not impossible."

* PA