‘Balance key to Wales back row’ – McBryde

Forwards coach Robin McBryde believes Wales are creating real strength in depth in their back row as anticipation builds ahead of Sunday's Six Nations opener with Italy.

Wales travel to Rome with head coach Rob Howley facing a selection headache over who to select in the pack. Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty are all fighting for a starting spot, while new caps Thomas Young and Olly Cracknell are both providing healthy competition.

Taulupe Faletau might be struggling with a knee injury, but McBryde is happy to have a number of different options from which to choose.

"There is healthy competition," he told the Welsh Rugby Union's official website.

"Both Olly and Thomas, new faces in the back row, just add to that mix that keeps everyone on their toes. It is all about getting the balance right in that back row. We are in a healthy place at the moment and whoever gets the nod, I am sure they will perform on the day.

"Training has been excellent. We feel we are in a good place, and hopefully that will be reflected in the performance on Sunday." 

Number eight Faletau is expected to be in contention to face England in Cardiff a week on Saturday, as is lock Luke Charteris who won't face the Italians due to a fractured hand.

"It is obviously a big step up in terms of intensity (for squad newcomers), and they have taken to it outstandingly," added McBryde.

"We've got to make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves. Italy will come into the competition full of confidence having had a good result against South Africa, so they know they can perform on the big stage against a good team.

"We have got to be ready for it. The new coaches with Italy will want to lay down a marker as well. Everyone is aware of how important your first game is in the championship.

"We know they are a big threat. We have got to be on our guard. It's really about concentrating on us and what we are in control of when we go out to Rome."