Italy will look to make it back-to-back Six Nations wins over Wales
Italy v Wales is a crucial match with the former going into the Six Nations clash as favourites.
Italy have been building well in this year’s tournament. They came close to beating France in the opening round, showed promise in the second half against England and pushed Ireland to the limit.
With Wales struggling throughout, many see this as Italy’s opportunity to get another win under their belts. They banished their long-run of Six Nations losses with a win over Wales in Cardiff last year and they will be hoping to capitalise on the victory.
For Wales, they need a win to restore confidence in the side. They have lost to Ireland, Scotland and England with poor performances. Coach Warren Gatland has been frank about where his team is at and will be gunning for a win to get back on track.
Here is all you need to know about Italy v Wales:
What is the team news for Italy v Wales
Italy have only made one change to their starting squad and it is forced one. Star full-back Ange Capuozzo suffered an injury against Ireland and has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament. This sees Tommy Allan come into the 15 shirt.
Allan has been a part of the team this tournament, starting at fly-half for the first two games while Paolo Garbisi recovered from injury.
Wales, meanwhile, have made six changes to their starting XV after their defeat to England. Liam Williams comes back in at full-back with the other changes in the backs coming at scrum-half and wing. Rhys Webb starts his first game in the nine shirt since 2020 and Rio Dyer comes back into the starting side with Louis Rees-Zammit dropped to the bench.
In the forwards, Wyn Jones replaces Gareth Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins comes into the second row and Jac Morgan is in the back-row with no place for Alun Wyn Jones or Christ Tshiunza in the 23.
From the bench George North comes back into the matchday 23 but there is no sign of former skipper Dan Biggar with Owen Williams at No 10 and no recognised fly-half among the replacements.
What have the coaches said?
Italy head coach Kieran Crowley said: “We recovered well from the last game and this week we worked on the areas where we needed to improve. We know the match ahead against Wales and are looking forward to it and hopefully we can continue to develop the way we want to play.”
Read more: Crowley hints at exciting new era for Italy
Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “We’ve been disappointed with the results so far and for me it’s hard to take as it’s the first time I’ve lost three games in the Six Nations with Wales. We’ve had a lot of things going on off the field as well but there are no excuses.
“The message to the players has been that we have to be smart in terms of the way we play but we’ve also got to be brave and make sure that when the opportunities are on we shift the ball. We have to keep scanning and looking at options and if there’s a chance to move the ball then be brave and do that.”
Any interesting statistics for Italy v Wales?
- This tournament is the first time Warren Gatland has lost three Six Nations games with Wales
- Italy have only beaten Wales three times out of the 31 matches they have contested
- The 2022 Six Nations win for Italy was their first win over Wales in 15 years
- The last time Wales lost their first four opening games was in the 2007 Six Nations.
- Wales have only ever lost every match of a Six Nations championship once, in 2003
What time does it kick-off and is it on TV?
Read more: How to watch the Six Nations from anywhere
The game will kick-off at 2.15pm GMT on Saturday, 11 March at the Stadio Olimpico. UK fans will be able to watch the match on ITV1 or stream the game on ITVX.
Supporters can also listen into the match with BBC 5 Live Sports Extra broadcasting the game.
Damon Murphy (RA) will take charge of the match with assistants Karl Dickson and Chris Busby (IRFU). The television match official is due to be Joy Neville (IRFU).
Related: Six Nations referees
What are the line-ups?
Italy: Tommy Allan, Edoardo Padovani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Pierre Bruno; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Niccolò Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi
Wales: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Mason Grady, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer; Owen Williams, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Gareth Thomas, Dillion Lewis, Rhys Davies, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit
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