Warren Gatland is targeting a fast start to the Championship in a fortnight’s time in order to fire Wales to the 2019 Guinness Six Nations title.
Gatland, a three-time Championship winner as Wales head coach, is heading into his 12th campaign at the helm after naming a 39-man squad on Tuesday.
Click here for the full 2019 Guinness Six Nations schedule
Gatland’s men kick off the 2019 Guinness Six Nations against France in Paris on Friday 1 February, before travelling to take on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico the following week.
“The whole thing about the Guinness Six Nations is the momentum,” commented Gatland. “If you can win your first couple of games, then you have a great chance of being in contention on the last weekend.
“That first game is important for us – If we can get a win then I think we’ll have a good tournament.”
After facing Italy, Wales host England on February 23 before travelling to Scotland and finishing up against Ireland in Cardiff in mid-March.
Wales claimed three wins to finish second in last year’s Championship and as Gatland hunts for a third Grand Slam of his career, the head coach is in confident mood.
“I think we’ve got a great chance of winning the Guinness Six Nations,” he continued. “If we win that opening game – that first game is going to be our toughest.
“We feel like we’re in as good a position as anybody to do well.”
Wales are coming off the back of an unprecedented perfect Autumn International series during which they beat Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa in Cardiff.
Lock Alun Wyn Jones will lead his country into the campaign, with Gatland pleased with his captain’s form and condition.
“There’s no doubt that he’s (Jones) playing some great rugby but in fairness to what Allen Clarke and the Ospreys have done is they’ve been fantastic in looking after him and not overplaying him,” Gatland added.
“As a result of that, both the Ospreys and Wales are getting the best out of him.
“He’s important for us at the moment, there’s no doubt, he’s essential over the next few months.”