Peel plays down Grand Slam
Dwayne Peel insists Wales are refusing to get carried away by their start to the RBS Six Nations.
By Tony Curtis
Last Updated: 14/02/08 4:50pm
Dwayne Peel insists Wales are refusing to get carried away by their start to the RBS Six Nations despite claiming the squad is stronger than when they won the Grand Slam in 2005.
From the despair of their early World Cup exit, Wales have bounced back under new coach Warren Gatland to record victories over England and Scotland in the Six Nations.
And having been forced to play second fiddle to Mike Phillips for the No.9 shirt, Peel knows more than most about the strength-in-depth currently enjoyed by the principality.
However the scrum-half, who will swap Llanelli for Sale in the summer, believes any talk of securing the Grand Slam is premature.
He said: "The squad is much stronger now than 2005. There is more competition for places.
"But talk of a Grand Slam is too far down the line to talk about. Yes, we have won two games but the most important thing is Italy next week. Let's concentrate on that.
"As players you can't get caught up in the euphoria that's going on outside the squad at the moment.
"Winning the first two games is a building block but it's important we knuckle down, and I know it's a cliché that's thrown out there repeatedly, but it's important we take each game as it comes our way.
"If things happen further down the line then that's great, but it will be a shame to waste two victories by not preparing for this game.
"It's massively important we do perform because Italy have shown in their last two games, against Ireland and England, that they can perform.
"They are a very industrious side. They came back against England last weekend and made things very difficult for Ireland.
"We are under no illusions it's going to be a very difficult game and we are going to have to do our homework well for that game."
Peel has yet to start a game in 2008 after being sidelined with injury - however he can't wait for the kick-off against the Azzurri.
"It has been frustrating not able to play but I'm fully fit and raring to go," he admitted.
"It has been difficult sitting out sessions but now I'm fully into it and chomping at the bit. I'm really looking forward to starting on Saturday week.
"I haven't played for a while and haven't been able to train properly, but that will change for the coming game.
"The environment is good. Everyone seems to be enjoying it. It's very challenging but that can only be for the squad.
"It's only going to breed a stronger squad and getting off to a winning start has helped immensely."