Ruddock: 'I believe this squad has the potential to be great'

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The Independent Online

The Wales coach Mike Ruddock believes his team will be remembered as one of the great sides of Welsh rugby should they continue their rapid development.

The Wales coach Mike Ruddock believes his team will be remembered as one of the great sides of Welsh rugby should they continue their rapid development.

"I'm very pleased with that performance," he said following their 38-8 win over Italy in Rome on Saturday. "We played some good rugby. Everybody is working hard and I'm happy for the players. I believe this squad has the potential to be a great team - provided they keep getting results like today and continue to improve.

"We try to play a style of rugby that people enjoy and we try to score tries. We have some great talent in this squad and it's the players who are driving us at the moment. Everyone was talking about the strength of the Italian forwards in the build-up to this match, even though we beat England last weekend. But I thought we looked comfortable against them.

"Italy are a great team - I think they're the most improved side in world rugby. If we hadn't entered the match with the right mindset it would have been much harder. We were very professional and clinical throughout."

Wales will travel to Paris on 26 February with their fans talking about winning the Six Nations Championship, but Ruddock was remaining calm, even if the last time Wales won their first two games, in 1994, they went on to take the title, on points difference, from England.

"To be honest I've not really thought about it yet," he said, and then uttered the immortal words: "We're concentrating on one match at a time."

If he was not expecting to have it quite so easy against the Italians, though, he is under no illusion about his next task. "France are next and they have a great history of winning Championships and Grand Slams, so I assume it will be tougher."

Ruddock was keen to down-play the contribution of Gavin Henson, despite the centre's performances so far, and dismissed the idea that he is in charge of a one-man team.

"Gavin knows the score," Ruddock said. "He is part of a team, and there is nobody bigger than the team. If he has benefited by a kick, it's because somebody else put in the earlier kick for someone else to chase and win the penalty for Gavin to go for goal.

"That is the great feature of this team; they all understand that they are as important as each other. We have no problem with people being heroes, as long as they realise that they are there because of the efforts of the whole team."

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