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Four changes for Wales for the wooden spoon game versus Italy

By Liam Heagney
Wales line up for last Sunday's anthem versus France (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Wales boss Warren Gatland has named a team to host Italy this Saturday in the Guinness Six Nations that has four changes following the loss to France.

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The Welsh were beaten 24-45 by the French in Cardiff last Sunday and their reaction for the wooden spoon encounter versus the Italians has been to change their midfield and alter two more players in their pack.

Nick Tompkins and George North, who has announced he will be retiring from international rugby after this weekend ahead of his 2024/25 switch to Provence in Pro D2, have been reinstated at centre after they were dropped for the round four loss for Owen Watkin and Joe Roberts.

Video Spacer

Joel Kpoku on life in the very physical French Top 14

Video Spacer

Joel Kpoku on life in the very physical French Top 14

Meanwhile, in the forwards, Dillon Lewis and Alex Mann have been promoted to start at the expense of the absent Keiron Assiratti and the benched Will Rowlands. The inclusion of Mann at blindside will see skipper Dafydd Jenkins revert to lock.

Fixture
Six Nations
Wales
21 - 24
Full-time
Italy
All Stats and Data

Among the replacements tighthead Harri O’Connor is in line to win his first senior international cap. Kemsley Mathias and Kieran Hardy are also named in the match day 23 as front row and scrum-half cover respectively.

Gatland said: “This is an important game for us. We definitely don’t want to finish bottom and the squad is hungry to win. Italy have quality players throughout the side and have been good at taking opportunities when they get them to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

“We are excited and will step up and welcome the challenge ahead. We are still looking for that 80-minute performance and have spoken about needing to be better in the big moments especially.

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“We understand that external pressure and expectation comes with international rugby. It’s about embracing that, continuing the hard work and fronting up in training to go out there and be accurate and disciplined on Saturday.”

Wales go into the game in sixth and last place in the championship having lost all four matches so far. They are four points behind the Italians, who ambushed Scotland in Rome last Saturday and drew with France in round three.

Wales (vs Italy, Saturday)
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 58 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 120 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 35 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 18 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 11 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 57 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 29 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 50 caps)
3. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 56 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 16 caps, captain)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 55 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 17 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 47 caps)

Replacements:
16. Evan Lloyd (Cardiff Rugby – 1 cap)
17. Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets – 1 cap)
18. Harri O’Connor (Scarlets – uncapped)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 32 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 20 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 6 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 10 caps)

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