Warren Gatland says the experience in the Welsh squad will benefit his side
Warren Gatland says Wales can benefit hugely from the experience in their squad as the dawn of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations approaches.
We feel we have four or five guys in the team who can potentially change a game. It's nice to be able to have that firepower and players with that ability
The Wales head coach has an array of international know how at his fingertips as he prepares his side for Saturday's tournament opener against Italy. Ryan Jones and Ian Evans may be unavailable due to injury and suspension respectively but with the likes of Mike Phillips, Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones all available, Wales won't lack for leadership in key moments throughout the Championship.
The Azzurri come to the Millennium Stadium this weekend having struggled with injuries in the build-up to the campaign but after downing both France and Ireland last year, Jacques Brunel's side won't be underestimated by the men in red.
On the preparations for Saturday's game, Gatland said: "It's nice to be able to come back in with the team having won the last two Six Nations. We've come into this campaign looking at the profile of our squad and seeing just how experienced we are now.
"One of the things you can't do as a coach is coach experience. I think we have a bit of that at the moment, looking at how physical we are with the size and the pace we have in the squad.
"We're always conscious of good, young players coming through but there is a lot of experience around at the moment.
"We're all in countdown to the 2015 World Cup and we've already achieved a lot but we're not satisfied."
As well as boasting a huge amount of experience, Wales can also claim to have one of the most physical sides in world rugby. George North, Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts all provide plenty of ballast in the back line with the likes of Leigh Halfpenny and Mike Phillips capable of moments of individual brilliance.
"The other thing that's important from a coaching point of view is to have players with X factor," said Gatland.
"We feel we have four or five guys in the team who can potentially change a game. It's nice to be able to have that firepower and players with that ability.
"Hopefully we can go through a period of sustained success with Wales. These players can leave a legacy behind of their own and that's something we're conscious of."
After winning the last two Championships, Wales are chasing a third consecutive title - a target the Wales coaching staff are not afraid to aim for.
Gatland said: "The focus for us is winning three Six Nations Championships and ending that hoodoo of France winning after a Lions tour."
Captain Sam Warburton added: "People are going to be talking about the three Championships in a row but we're taking it one game at a time, especially with Italy. They had a couple of great wins last year so we're concentrating on them and moving forward from there.
"I'd rather be a favourite than an underdog. It's nice people are saying Wales are favourites but we definitely won't be underestimating how tough it will be to win the Six Nations again. Players won't become complacent, it will only spur us on."
There are still a limited number of tickets available for Wales vs Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, February 1. There are single tickets available for Wales against France on February 21 but the home encounter with Scotland on the final weekend is sold out. To get your tickets go to www.wru.co.uk/tickets.
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