Ian Evans believes Wales can retain Six Nations title
IAN Evans believes Wales can retain their Six Nations crown — and the Ospreys lock expects the race for the title to go down to the wire.
Wales lost their opening game of the championship at home to Ireland but, having won in France a fortnight ago, they visit Italy on Saturday with renewed confidence.
England are the only team with two victories so far and have a Grand Slam in their sights, but Wales will be looking to ruin those hopes when Stuart Lancaster's men travel to Cardiff on the final weekend.
"If everything progresses the way we hope it will, it could all come down to the last game," said Evans.
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"But we have got to take it step by step.
"You can't win a Grand Slam every year. The bottom line is to try to come away with the trophy and try to represent ourselves to a high standard."
A knee injury had sidelined Evans for three months before the opening clash against Ireland, but the 28-year-old has showed no signs of rustiness on his return to first-team action.
Indeed, excellent displays against Ireland and France have seen him keep his place in the side to face Italy despite the return of the inspirational Alun Wyn Jones.
Saturday's match at the Stadio Olimpico will be Evans's first experience of playing in Rome, and the 6ft 7in second row is expecting a rigorous examination from the Azzurri.
"If they can get their tails up in the first 20 minutes, they can be a great team with their confidence up," he said.
"The first 20 is always key. They are a passionate team and, if we can take that sting out of it, especially up front, hopefully we can stick to our game-plan.
"I have never played in Rome so it will be a new experience for myself. It is a big stadium, but I don't think the crowd are on top of you like other grounds. I am looking forward to it.
"People give Italy a lot of disrespect, but when you play them in Rome they are a very good team.
"Speaking from a regional rugby point of view, you go to Treviso and they are a very tough team to beat and they deserve your respect."