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Wales’ Hannah Jones backs team to close gaps on England and France in 2023 Six Nations

Welsh rugby captain Hannah Jones has said she backs the Wales squad to close the competitive gap on England and France.

Whilst just in their second year as a full-time professional team, the 25 now-full-time players aim to enter the campaign with high aspirations.

England and France are currently the second and third best teams in women’s rugby, and regularly put 50 or more points over their opposition – however both teams go into the 2023 Six Nations missing some key players.

Captain Emily Scarratt, Zoe Harrison, Hannah Botterman, Vickii Cornborough and Laura Keates are amongst the English players who will be sidelined.

Women’s Six Nations Player of the Championship Laure Sansus is amongst the French to be out of the tournament, having hung up her boots. Madoussou Fall is also out due to injury.

For Wales, there is no better time to squash the competitive edge the latter two teams have over the other squads.

“With the game growing and every nation bringing in contracts, it’s about who trains the hardest and who has the best skills.” Jones said.

“You go into the matches with a winning mindset, but there’s definitely a chance this year.

“We’re looking to build on performances from last year and close that gap, England have picked up a few knocks, we can go looking to be confident.”

In 2022, Wales enjoyed their best finish in 13 years after beating Ireland and Scotland to finish third.

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Six uncapped players enter the 36-player squad, with head coach Ioan Cunningham calling them up for the upcoming tournament. One key name is Jenna De Vera, who impressed in the recent Celtic Challenge.

“They’re very exciting and hopefully that’s building the game in Wales.” Jones said about the new squad members.

“There is expectation on us having more contracts, but we’re a new group as well as we’re just looking to build on the performances from the World Cup.

“We created a lot of opportunities out in the World Cup to score and now we’re looking to convert and finish those tries off.”