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Straight back Wyn? Wales to name team two days early

By Kim Ekin
Wales Alun Wyn Jones during the pre match warm up during the Autumn International match between Wales and New Zealand (Photo by Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

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Wales are set to reveal their team for the Italy match two days earlier than scheduled this week, with Welsh fans set to find out if Alun Wyn Jones has been drafted straight back into the team.

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The ‘Super Saturday’ game is a chance for the men in red to end their campaign on a high and the return of Jones would be the cherry on top as they bid to get him to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

It was confirmed on Saturday that the record-breaking cap holder would be considered for selection, and many believe Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will pick the Ospreys forward to start the game or at the very least be offered a place on the bench.

It’s the second time in nine months that Wales’ second-row talisman has defied medical predictions.

Last summer, it was an odds-defying quick return from a shoulder injury to lead the British and Irish Lions in their Test series against South Africa.

He suffered another shoulder injury in October, undergoing two operations and forecasts that he would not play again until much later this season.

Yet Jones has defied the odds again, and is back in the Wales squad and available for selection against Italy.

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It presents an interesting selection call for Pivac, but it has to be ‘less is more’ in terms of getting 36-year-old Jones to the 2023 World Cup.

Will Rowlands and Adam Beard have excelled in Jones’ absence, with Seb Davies another lock option, so even though Jones’ 150th Wales appearance beckons, it might not be this weekend.

A transitional Wales team are expected to pick up their second win of the tournament against Kieran Crowley’s Azzurri.

The Six Nations promotion and relegation debate has not gone away, which is hardly surprising given Italy’s continued struggle.

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They have not won a match in the tournament since 2015, losing their last 36 Six Nations Tests, with nearly half of those losses being by 30 points or more.

The wooden spoon is theirs for a seventh-successive campaign and they will arrive in Cardiff on Saturday having lost by an average scoreline of 39-11 across their previous Six Nations visits.

Wales know that a bonus-point victory could haul them into the top three and they will be fired up after a 13-9 loss to France last time out that left captain Dan Biggar “annoyed”. It does not auger well for Italy.

Wales will reveal their team on Tuesday afternoon.

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