Defending champions open Six Nations

Captain Sam Warburton says the team will take 'massive confidence' from their status as reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A crowd of 74,000 people is expected to swarm to the Millennium Stadium today for the first game of this year's Six Nations tournament.

Defending champions Wales will take on Ireland at 1.30pm in Cardiff.

Losses against Australia (four times), New Zealand, Argentina and Samoa mean that Wales are experiencing their most barren run for nine years and go into this season's tournament as fourth favourites behind France, England and Ireland.

Captain Sam Warburton believes Wales will take "massive confidence" from their status as reigning RBS 6 Nations champions when they aim to end their losing run.

Wales have not beaten another Test-playing country since defeating France to secure last season's Six Nations title and a third Grand Slam in eight years.

Ireland are first up at the Millennium Stadium, a reversal of last year's opening fixture in Dublin when Wales prevailed thanks to full-back Leigh Halfpenny's late penalty strike.

Despite a lengthy injury list that currently includes the likes of Ryan Jones, Rhys Priestland, Richard Hibbard, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies - plus head coach Warren Gatland's absence due to British and Irish Lions commitments - Warburton remains in upbeat mood.

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Wales beaten by Ireland

Despite a remarkable resurgence in the second half, Wales lost 30-22 to Ireland in their first game of their Six Nations campaign.