5:02pm Tuesday 21st January 2014
By Andrew Penman
SIX Nations hero Alex Cuthbert says the Wales squad will be aiming to put the regions row to one side and unite the country by securing a third straight title.
Warren Gatland’s men begin the defence of their Six Nations crown by welcoming Italy to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, February 1.
And Cuthbert, who scored two tries as Wales destroyed England in last season’s championship decider, insists that the current state of civil war between the four regions and the WRU will not be a distraction for the players.
The Cardiff Blues wing says Gatland’s squad will put the row to one side and concentrate on proving once again that they are top dogs in the northern hemisphere.
“It affects everyone within the regions but I think everyone is looking forward to working together now,” said the 23-year-old British & Irish Lions star.
“We don’t need to worry about things we can’t control. Hopefully we put in a performance over the next six weeks in the Six Nations and everything outside that we’ll put to one side.
“Our prime target is to win the Six Nations again and if we do that maybe everyone will forget about the problems (off the field).
“If we’re playing well we’re going to get a lot of people behind us,” he added. “I guess a lot of people will be thinking about what’s gone on with the regions but we want everyone to get behind the Welsh team now.
“We want to forget about everything that’s outside this environment we’re in and concentrate on Wales doing well.
“I think most teams would thrive on that. We’ve done our talking on the pitch over the past few years and we want to put in performances and win again.”
Cuthbert knows that winning a third successive Six Nations title, which has not been done before, will be no easy task.
“We are the reigning champions and everyone will want to stop us winning it again. Every game will be like a World Cup final,” he said.
“We’ve got to go into it with that mentality because every team will want to beat us.
“They’ll want to knock us off our stride because, as we’ve shown in recent years, if we get into our stride we’re a hard team to beat.
“But we want to be the best team in the northern hemisphere and we relish the fact that we’re the team to beat.”
And Cuthbert says Wales will not take a win over tournament outsiders Italy for granted.
“We’re concentrating on putting down a marker against Italy and building from there,” he said.
“That won’t be easy. They’re improving and they showed last year that they are very stubborn and hard to break down. They’re a tough side.”
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