Peel: Wales can mount Six Nations challenge

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Dwayne Peel thinks Wales can be a force in the Six Nations and envisages a smooth transition for Rob Howley's side with Alun Wyn Jones as captain.

Wales were hammered by Australia in their first November international following a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of world champions New Zealand in June.

They responded to a 32-8 beating by the Wallabies by winning three consecutive Tests against Argentina, Japan and South Africa and will be expected to start their Six Nations campaign with a victory over Italy in Rome next Sunday.

England head coach Eddie Jones accused Howley's men of being complacent in a 33-30 triumph over Japan after Sam Davies' late drop goal got them out of jail.

But former Wales scrum-half Peel believes they are capable of mounting a challenge for a first Six Nations title since 2013.

He told Omnisport: "I think they can make their presence felt purely on the player quality we have, there is real quality in the squad.

"You look at it at face value and England are favourites, Ireland have done well in the Autumn internationals and Wales won three from four games as well.

"You would probably say that England and Ireland are the favourites, but I think with the player quality and depth we have, we can be competitive.

"I also think Scotland will be very competitive, so it bodes well for the Six Nations."

Ex-British and Irish Lions playmaker Peel also expects Wales to respond well to a new leader after Jones replaced Sam Warburton as skipper.

He added: "I don't see a change in captaincy having any affect at all, he's [Jones] captained the side before when Warby was out and the players respect him so highly.

"He'll do a great job as captain and will be a great leader for Wales and we have other leaders behind him."