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'Respect to the Italians... but' - Wainwright says Wales 'definitely' getting win

By PA
Aaron Wainwright of Wales looks on as he speaks to the media after the Wales Captain's Run, prior to the Guinness Six Nations Round Five match between Wales and Italy, at Principality Stadium on March 15, 2024 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

Aaron Wainwright insists nothing but victory will be acceptable for Wales in Saturday’s wooden spoon decider against Italy.

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Wales must win in Cardiff to have any chance of not finishing bottom of the Guinness Six Nations table for a first time since 2003.

Narrow defeats against Scotland and England this season were followed by heavier losses at the hands of Ireland and France, leaving Wales four points adrift in sixth place.

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Even if they topple Italy, Wales could still remain rooted to the basement should losing bonus points come into play.

Asked how desperate he would be to avoid having a wooden spoon on his resume, Wales number eight Wainwright said: “It would be embarrassing.

“We can’t afford to go out tomorrow and lose. We need to win. I don’t think anything else is acceptable.

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“Massive respect to the Italians for what they’ve done so far in the tournament, but we are definitely going out there and getting a win to end the campaign on a high.

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“We were accurate and played well in the first 20 minutes (against France), and it is about doing that against Italy and sustaining it for the rest of the game.

“We won in Rome last year, and we will be looking to do the same this time to finish on a positive note and take something away from this campaign.”

Italy beat Wales at the Principality Stadium two years ago, and they now return to tackle a team that have lost their last six home games in the Six Nations.

Warren Gatland had a Six Nations win ratio of around 70 per cent during his first stint in the job from 2008 to 2019. Since he returned for last year’s tournament, it stands at barely 10 per cent.

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There are mitigating factors, including post-World Cup retirements of Dan Biggar and Leigh HalfpennyGeorge North will follow after Saturday’s game – Louis Rees-Zammit quitting rugby for a possible NFL career, Liam Williams moving to Japan and the likes of Jac Morgan, Taulupe Faletau and Dewi Lake all being sidelined by long-term injuries.

Five players have made Test debuts during an extensive Six Nations rebuild, but Wales’ lack of depth is highlighted by their front-row replacements on Saturday – Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias and Harri O’Connor – having just 41 minutes of international experience between them.

Gatland has never lost to Italy as Wales boss, and he said: “We are all aware it is an important game for us. We are at home.

“We have felt like we’ve been in all the games for long periods and put ourselves in positions.

“We could have won a couple more games than we have at the moment, and that is frustrating for us. But I talk to the players continuously about game-management scenarios and looking to improve.

“They (Italy) look probably in better shape physically than they have ever been in the past. They have got some depth across the whole of the squad.”

Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins said: “In these sorts of games you can tell who is meant for the Test arena and who really wants it.

“There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel; 2003 probably wasn’t the best season (for Wales), but then you go to 2005 and they are winning Grand Slams.

“That is our aim and where we want to be.”

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Comments

3 Comments
B
Bull Shark 121 days ago

Respect to the Italians my hairy ass!

C
Chris 121 days ago

😂 that’s asking for it! Like the titanic is unsinkable!

T
Turlough 122 days ago

‘Respect to the Italians... but' - Wainwright says Wales 'definitely' getting win’

What could go wrong?

With a decent shout in the lead up, Italy imploded last year and let Wales into a 3-22 lead. Good discipline here, alert to Welsh trickiness and sniping and I think they have a real chance. This Italian team has worked a lot in recent years with scant reward. They will have to earn it, but they deserve a successful campaign for their attacking ambition.

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B.J. Spratt 33 minutes ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

You Poms and Paddies are really nice guys. New Zealand V Ireland - 37 Tests - N.Z. 31 Wins - Ireland 5 Wins - 1 draw. New Zealand V England - 45 Tests - N.Z. 35 Wins -England 8 Wins - 2 draws. Combined - You have beaten the All Blacks 13 Times in 82 attempts over 119 years. The Stats over 100 years + would say, especially England with 6 Times the player pool than New Zealand, you have WON 8 times. So how can England with a 6 times the player numbers have a 17% winning strike rate against New Zealand? and be 8 -0 in Test Series over 100 years. The answer is simple. Your perception of the game. How do you fix it? You need to play in New Zealand for a couple of seasons in your teens, 18 -20. Martin Johnstone played 2 seasons here under the mentorship of Colin Meads. When he came here he had rugby shorts with pockets and a handkerchief in one pocket. He played for NZ Under 21 against Wallaby John Eales. He became the toughest player in the game and the best ever English Captain and Captained the Lions twice. Legend! Maybe if he hadn’t come to New Zealand, he may still had those rugby shorts with pockets. Recently Rogan O’Gara spent time at the Crusaders. What a great coach. “Our “mindset is different” and that’s how we have beaten you for 100 years + How the hell he isn’t Coaching Ireland, France, England, Wales, or Scotland I will never know? England has 131,000 Senior rugby Players. Ireland has 21,000 Senior Players. New Zealand has 27,000 Senior Players.

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