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Alex Cuthbert predicts tough battle with Italy in Stadio Olimpico

Last Updated: 22/02/13 12:15pm

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Alex Cuthbert: Expects a tough afternoon in Rome

Alex Cuthbert: Expects a tough afternoon in Rome

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Alex Cuthbert says Wales will have to "front-up" when they take on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Italy stunned France in their opening match of this year's Six Nations, only to collapse horribly at Murrayfield, Scotland cruising to a 34-10 victory.

Wing Cuthbert expects the Azzurri to be back to their best in Rome, despite the absence of their banned captain Sergio Parisse.

"They showed what they can do at top level against France," he said.

"They will be the same as they were against France at home, and it will be a tough challenge. We will have to front-up."

Despite their opening defeat to Ireland, Wales are still in contention in the title race thanks to their victory in Paris two weeks ago which ended a demoralising run of eight successive defeats.

Interim head coach Rob Howley reacted to the Paris win by announcing an unchanged team within 72 hours of that game finishing, and Cuthbert added: "Morale is really high.

"The boys thought it (early selection) was a good call. The side has been together pretty much for the past two weeks. We've done a lot of sessions together as a team.

"We tried to play a bit of rugby against France, and with the confidence of getting that win and putting all those losses behind us hopefully we can play the way we did in the Six Nations last year.

"We tried to play rugby against France, but in those sort of games you are not going to get many chances. France defended well, as we did, but when we did get that chance we took it and ended up winning the game."

"But Rob Howley gives me a free role to go and get the ball as much as I can and get as many touches as I can, and that will be the case against Italy, looking for mis-matches against their forwards.

"They have a big front-five and the majority of their play is based around them, so if we get our chances on the counter-attack then we have to make the most of them."

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