Italy V Wales
Warren Gatland is a harsh man when it comes to team assessment, and I sure enough wouldn’t want to have been in that dressing room at half time in Paris, or in the review meetings during the week. He knows what went wrong, but ten changes to the line up seems rather dramatic and almost like an overreaction to a bad start. Some people failed to perform in France and needed to step aside, but others need to be preserved if Wales are to go all the way. Ross Moriarty, skipper Alun Wyn Jones and George North drop out of the starting XV, and Dan Biggar comes in to help bring a better attacking game for Wales.
For Wales, the fixtures have been kind, and trips to Paris and Rome back to back get the heavy mileage out the way, and their last three games will be the big fixtures which they’ll know they can win, but protecting the players who did well against France whilst still getting a crucial bonus point win in Rome is key. Italy however have a very different objective on their mind. Gatland might be viewed to be taking it easy by giving Jonah Holmes and Thomas Young deserved starts in their debut Six Nations campaigns, but Italy proved they can sting you when you least expect it.
Three tries late on at Murrayfield caught the Scots off guard, despite the result being confirmed after the hour. If Italy play the way they did at the end of that opening fixture, then this could be the undoing of the Welsh. Sick bug or not, there were fantastic performances last weekend from the Azzurri, and we all know they’re capable of big wins; the year 2007 won’t be one the Welsh fans want to hear. Ultimately, you can’t see this Welsh side going down and having their ten game winning run ended in Rome, but Conor O’Shea is moulding this team day by day and they’ll want to put in a big performance to build on last week.