Taylor wary of confident Italy

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The Independent Online

The Wales centre Mark Taylor is expecting a tough final Six Nations encounter against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday. Italy have yet to win away since joining the tournament but, after watching them beat Scotland, Taylor is expecting to encounter a confident Azzurri.

The Wales centre Mark Taylor is expecting a tough final Six Nations encounter against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday. Italy have yet to win away since joining the tournament but, after watching them beat Scotland, Taylor is expecting to encounter a confident Azzurri.

"Italy are a very difficult side to play against," Taylor warned. "This is probably the best Italy side that has been involved in the Six Nations. They have been competitive against all the big sides and obviously managed to turn over Scotland. They will now come over here with an awful lot of confidence and fancy themselves to pull off a win."

However, Taylor believes Wales can take a lot of confidence into the match, despite going down 31-21 to England at Twickenham last weekend.

"I think we played well against England. The way England defend helped us, because they do show you the outside," said Taylor, who will win his 47th cap on Saturday. "But the big thing in the end was England's set-piece. Towards the end they took control of the game.

"Saying that, you have to give credit to our forwards. Everyone says what a great backline Waleshas but the forwards contributed to the open style of play. On occasion it was the forwards who ended up making breaks and we produced 15-man rugby."

Much of the talk surrounding the Wales camp concerns the national coach, with Steve Hansen stepping down after two years in charge to be replaced by Mike Ruddock.

Taylor, who played under Ruddock at Swansea, said: "Mike Ruddock is going to come in with a blank canvas and everyone is wanting to go out and impress."

* Llanelli look set to leave Stradey Park and today will unveil plans to build a new, purpose-built stadium on the outskirts of the town.

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