Team news, stats and TV details for the Italy v Wales game in Rome. Can the Azzurri cause a shock against a much-changed Welsh line-up?
Six Nations Italy v Wales Preview
After their comeback win against France in the opening fixture of the Six Nations, Wales have been on the French Riviera for a training camp in Nice. The idea has been to replicate the feeling of the Rugby World Cup, with 31 players in training and the team staying in unfamiliar territory for a prolonged period of time.
Do palm trees, promenades and dips in the sea sound alright to you? Well amid the flurry of training there has been plenty of personnel switches for their match-up in Rome, too.
Wales have got ten different faces in after their exploits in Paris, as stalwart centre Jonathan Davies is trusted to lead the side, with Alun Wyn Jones on the bench.
Italy, meanwhile, will be encouraged by their late rally against Scotland last week – and although their three unanswered tries in the last ten minutes of the game were nowhere near enough to drag them towards a bonus point, there was some beautiful, well-executed play.
Last week we pointed out that Italy are still to win a Six Nations match under Conor O’Shea. A week later, some are grumbling that Wales may have laid up with their team selection but the bookies don’t seem to mind, pushing the visitors way out in front with odds of 1/12.
It would be some spectacle if Italy can resurrect that performance from 2007, when they last beat Wales in the Six Nations, 23-20. And wouldn’t you know it, the captains from both teams – Sergio Parisse and Jones – both started in that fixture all those years ago…
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What’s the big team news?
It’s all change for Wales with ten switches. Winger Jonah Holmes, flanks Thomas Young and Aaron Wainwright, and scrum-half Aled Davies all come in – swapping with George North, Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric and Tomos Williams respectively.
Owen Watkin also comes in to partner captain Davies, Jake Ball comes in with AW Jones dropping to the bench, and Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee offer a totally fresh front row. Dan Biggar will run the show from fly-half.
Italy have made two changes of their own.
Wasp Michele Campagnaro will be in more familiar territory as he comes off his wing and into centre, meaning Tommaso Castello drops out all together. Edo Padovani starts on the wing. Nicola Quaglio starts at loosehead instead of Andrea Lovotti.
What have the coaches said?
Italy boss Conor O’Shea said: “We want to put pressure on our opponents, to try to improve our levels. We must always work and keep our attention high. I believe that if we maintain high standards in training we can achieve very important results. I believe a lot in this group. People outside our environment are free to think that this is something impossible. I do not think so: I have guys of great value. Our focus must be on ourselves.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland said: “We have made a number of changes but have picked a very exciting team that still has huge experience.We have made a similar number of changes to what we did last year, but it is all about opportunity for these players.
“We have had a squad of 31 training together in Nice, replicating the World Cup. We wanted to include the eight players that weren’t involved last weekend, it is important they get game time.”
Any interesting statistics?
- A Wales victory would mean 11 Test wins in a row for them – equalling their all-time record for consecutive wins.
- Wales have won their last 11 meetings with Italy in the Six Nations.
- Italy have beaten Wales twice in the Six Nations. Both were in Rome, in 2003 and 2007.
- Italy have lost a record 18 Six Nations matches in a row.
- Wales 16-point comeback last week was their biggest in history.
- Full-back Liam Williams beat seven defenders against France – he also made two clean breaks and ran 90m with ball in hand
- Michele Campagnaro made three clean breaks from the wing against Scotland but he also missed four tackles.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Italy v Wales, Saturday 8 February, Stadio Olimpico
The second game of round two kicks off at 4.45pm in Rome and will be broadcast live on ITV and S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, as well as TV3 and RTE radio in Ireland.
ITALY: Jayden Hayward; Edoardo Padovani, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Allan, Guglielmo Palazzani; Nicola Quaglio, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, David Sisi, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Braam Steyn, Sergio Parisse.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Marco Barbini, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Benvenuti
WALES: Liam Williams; Jonah Holmes, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Aled Davies; Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Thomas Young, Josh Navidi.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Alun Wyn Jones, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Hallam Amos.
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