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Josh Adams says Wales ‘can’t afford to lose’ Six Nations clash with Italy

By PA
Wales players after their loss to France - PA

Josh Adams says that Wales must not “shy away” from what awaits them in the pressure-filled cauldron of a wooden spoon decider against Italy.

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Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has played host to Six Nations title successes and witnessed Grand Slam glory, but the contrast this weekend could hardly be greater.

There is no silverware at stake, just the Guinness Six Nations’ mythical “prize” for finishing bottom of the table. And this season it is a straight shoot-out between Wales and Italy.

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Wales, currently four points adrift of their fifth-placed opponents, must win to have any chance of avoiding a first wooden spoon since 2003.

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

Even victory might not be enough if bonus points come into play, and Wales wing Adams accepts that the heat is on.

“It is a bit of a different pressure,” he said.

“Pressure when you are in a game to win something, it feels a little bit different. There is something at the end of it, whereas this is a situation where we can’t afford to lose.

“We have to have the mindset that international rugby is all about winning, and we haven’t been able to do that yet. We are desperate to win.

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“I have been in a relegation battle in the Premiership with Worcester. We lost our first seven games of the season and we were miles adrift at the bottom.

“It came down to a game against London Irish, where it was pretty much whoever won would stay up. This is similar in a way.

“You have to embrace it and not shy away from it. We can’t go in our shells and cover up.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
31
18
First try wins
40%
Home team wins
20%

“We have had the mentality of ‘let’s take this head-on, let’s be at our best this weekend and let’s finish with what we feel we deserve, which is a good victory’.

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“Sometimes you learn best from your losses, but there are only learnings if you show improvements the following week, otherwise there is no point.

“I won my first Test at home against Scotland, then lost away against England and I didn’t lose for nine Tests after that. I was in a team that didn’t know how to lose.

“That is the sort of journey we are going to have to get to where it becomes second-nature where we understand how to close games out, how to squeeze opposition better and see tough Test matches out.

“International rugby is a cut-throat business, and you need to perform at your best every week if you want to win.”

Wales’ last Six Nations victory was against Italy in Rome 12 months ago, while the Azzuri triumphed 22-21 on their most recent Cardiff visit in 2022 when try-scorer Adams was named player of the match and promptly gave his medal to visiting full-back Ange Capuozzo.

That match was Alun Wyn Jones 150th Wales cap and Dan Biggar’s 100th, while this time around the game is George North’s farewell appearance before retiring from Test rugby.

“I would like to think we can send off George with a win and not have a repeat of the result when Dan and Al reached their incredible milestones,” Adams added.

“It is important we do something for George. He has had so many memorable moments for Wales, and his contribution to Welsh rugby has been incredible.

“There are no real words to sum him up. I would just like to say ‘thank you’ for the way he has helped me.”

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Jon 11 minutes ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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W
Wonton 7 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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