Six Nations

Wales looking for positive reaction against Italy

Wales forward coach Robin McBryde wants to see a positive reaction from the players when they entertain Italy in their final Six Nations outing at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Wales' hopes of winning the competition for the first time since 2013 ended last weekend with a 25-21 defeat to Grand Slam-chasing England.

Scotland's subsequent 29-18 victory over France handed England the title and means Warren Gatland's side must defeat Italy in the final outing in order to be sure of second position.

McBryde admitted the Twickenham loss hit Wales hard, but he expects a full recovery in Cardiff this weekend.

"It's no surprise that last week's performance and result took the wind out of our sails a bit," he said.

"We're glad to have this game really because it gives us an opportunity to put things right and finish second. There's still a lot on this game in terms of our personal pride.

"It's been a tough week this week. We may use that game as a reference point looking forward because on the back of a good week, we didn't produce the goods.

"Tomorrow is about getting a result and performance and getting a spring back in our step. It's going to be a challenge."

Italy coach Jacques Brunel says they will learn the lessons from a 58-15 thumping at the hands of Ireland last weekend as they bid to avoid a winless campaign.

Whatever the result, Italy will finish bottom of the pile, but Brunel will be hopeful of signing off with a victory ahead of his move to take the reins at Bordeaux-Begles.

"Wales, similarly to Ireland, are a team that has the ability to play with great effectiveness," said the coach.

"We will not give them time and space as in Dublin, it will be crucial to slow down their game at the breakdown and keep the right attitude for all 80 minutes."

Dan Lydiate – expected to be fit despite an ankle problem – has been named captain in a much-changed Wales line-up with Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones out through injury.

Michele Campagnaro is one of a number of absentees for Italy, and his place is taken by Andrea Pratichetti.

Tommasso Allan returns in place of Edoardo Padovani for his first appearance of the year, while Martin Castrogiovanni returns from suspension in order to a record 119th cap – a feat which will be matched by Sergio Parisse.


Key Opta stats:

- Wales have won the last eight meetings between the sides in the Six Nations and are unbeaten at home to Italy in the tournament (W7, D1).
- Francesco Minto made 23 out of 24 tackles against Ireland last week, the most any player has made in a Six Nations game this year.
- George North has also scored the joint most tries (3), gained the most metres (325) and beaten the most defenders of any player this year (21).
- This will be Warren Gatland’s 50th Six Nations game, it will be his 40th game with Wales after taking charge of 10 Ireland games in the first two seasons of the Six Nations (W34, D1, L14); Italy’s Jacques Brunel will be taking charge of Italy for the 50th game overall.