5 key talking points as Wales prepare for wooden spoon clash with Italy

- Advertisement -

Wales face Guinness Six Nations opponents Italy in Rome on Saturday with the possibility of a first wooden spoon since 2003 hanging over them.

It is more than a year since Wales won a Six Nations game, and they head to the Eternal City following successive losses to Ireland, Scotland and England.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points heading into the Stadio Olimpico clash.

Wooden spoon on the table

Wales on the back foot

The results-driven business that is professional sport can be a cruel place at times, and Wales cannot hide from that. They are arguably the only team in this season’s Six Nations that appear to be moving in the wrong direction. Three successive tournament defeats – and just 27 points and three tries scored – have followed nine defeats from 12 starts in 2022, when Wales suffered humiliating home losses against Italy and Georgia under Gatland’s Wales coaching predecessor Wayne Pivac. They have shown promising glimpses in this season’s Six Nations, but also been ruthlessly punished for dreadful discipline (more than 40 penalties conceded), a chronic lack of creativity and missed opportunities when chances presented themselves. They are not bottom of the table by accident.

Italy must convert promise into victory

Ange Capuozzo
Italy will be without an injured Ange Capuozzo against Wales (David Davies/PA)

Joe Hawkins a shining light

He might only be 20, but Wales centre Joe Hawkins has excelled on the international stage during his four Test match appearances. He was handed a Wales debut by Pivac against Australia in November, and he has impressed throughout the Six Nations, displaying a maturity beyond his years. Do not be surprised though, if he ends up at some point succeeding cap centurion Dan Biggar as Wales fly-half. “Dan Carter played a lot of his early career at 12 and then moved to 10, and I think Joe might probably be similar in that,” Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said. “He is obviously a fantastic 12, and there is no doubt he can easily be a 10 in time.”

What next for Wales?

Wales head coach Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland has an impressive World Cup record as Wales head coach (Joe Giddens/PA)

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.