Evans: Wales can retain crown

Former British & Irish Lion Ieuan Evans believes Wales can overcome an injury crisis and retain their Six Nations title. [more]

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Former British & Irish Lion Ieuan Evans believes Wales can overcome an injury crisis and retain their Six Nations title.

The championship holders will have to start their defence of the title without key players such as Lions Tom Shanklin and Ryan Jones.

But Welsh legend Evans is convinced his country can adapt to the loss of the mainstays of the team.

Evans said: "Wales won the Grand Slam last year and success brings its own pressures but I am confident Wales will be there competing at he end of the championship.

"France will be favourites because of the strength in depth they have, but I think all the other teams are capable of taking points off one another.

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"The critical game for Wales this year will be their first one against England.

"We played them first last year and when we beat them it was the catalyst to a great season for us and a pretty disappointing one for England – it could be the same again this year.

"Last year we won the Grand Slam with only two home games, this year we have three matches at the Millennium Stadium and hopefully we will benefit from that.

"It’s going to be intriguing and that’s the beauty of the Six Nations, nobody can tell what is going to happen next.

"I mean very few people except one-eyed Welshmen would have predicted last year that Wales would win the Grand Slam.

"They won by playing a different brand of rugby and they caught a lot of people by surprise.

"It was enthralling, I really enjoyed it, and they were the popular winners because unless you were playing against them you would have enjoyed the way they played.

"However Wales will have to adapt the way they play this year because it is going to be a very different team.

"A lot of last year’s rugby was based on keeping the ball alive by off-loading in the tackle, but without Tom Shanklin and Ryan Jones, they will have to find another way of getting across the game-line."

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