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Wales face toughest opening hurdle

After a year of history making exploits, Wales will have to hit the ground running this weekend if theyre to repeat their record-breaking feats of 2009.

Having won a Triple Crown by defeating England, Scotland and Ireland for the first time ever in the same season last year, Wales have set themselves a tough benchmark to follow. With 6 Nations champions England lying in wait on home soil in the first game of the year, reaching the heights of 12 months ago will be a challenge the Welsh team will have to meet head on.

That said, it hardly takes much to motivate a Welsh player when it comes to games against England but theyll take to the Esher turf next Saturday knowing that their opponents are still smarting from defeat last year and knowing that when England play well, they are possibly the toughest team in the world to beat.

Since finishing as runners-up last year in their best ever finish, Wales have been quiet on the international front, lining out in just one game against Sweden over the winter in a match which head coach Jason Lewis used to give some new players a run out in their country colours. England by comparison have been hectic, playing at the Nations Cup and taking on the World Champions New Zealand in two test in the winter.

This weekend though the best Welsh team will be on the park, and flanker Catrina Nicholas (pictured) says that her side know what lies in store.

I dont know if they (England) will be more fired up than normal , they are always fired up and when Wales and England play its always a bit of grudge match and a big physical game but I can imagine a few will have a bee in their bonnet about last years result and be looking to put that right.

"We are going to be as competitive as we can and we have lot of self belief after last year.

Winning the Triple Crown did more for Wales though than just instil self belief in the senior squad it also gave them a vital opportunity to promote the sport around the country and Nicholas adds that Wales must build on this with good performances this year.

I think this year we definitely want good performances and good wins. Last year we had a few narrow wins and we want to be more convincing in all of the games.

Does she believe Wales can take the extra jump and win the title?

Yes she answers firmly.

Why else would we play? We dont go out there thinking well lose a game and we have real strength as a team. The Wales team at the moment is a unit and we are a very tight group of people with a lot of pride and passion. That goes with all Welsh teams and we are no different.

Her side will need all the pride and passion they can muster if they are to do a 6 Nations double over England on Saturday.