Wales v Italy - Teams and Prediction
SIX NATIONS, ROUND FIVE: Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones will decide who leads Wales out against Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday on what promises to be a landmark day for both stalwarts.
Veteran lock Jones is poised to collect cap number 150 for Wales – which would extend his world record – after the 36-year-old was named in the starting line-up for the first time since October following a shoulder injury.
Biggar retains the captaincy and will become the seventh Welshman to win 100 caps for his country in Cardiff in the match that pits fifth-placed Wales against winless Italy.
Biggar, asked who will run out first at the Millennium Stadium, replied: “I am not actually sure yet. I would imagine me and Al will sit down with a coffee and have that discussion.
“I would imagine he will be saying for me to lead it out and I will be saying for him to do it. We might be bashing our heads against a brick wall for a while.”
Biggar, reflecting on his looming milestone, added: “It’s a nice moment to get to, and hopefully we can make the day really special for Al as well for his achievement, which is incredible.
“To play 150 Tests in the position he does is some achievement.”
Biggar and Jones were teammates at Welsh regional side the Ospreys for 11 years before Biggar joined English Premiership club Northampton in 2018, while their Test careers have run in tandem since 2008.
“I have watched him turn into what he is now, which is an absolute legend of the game and a real leading figure,” Biggar said.
Many observers thought Will Rowlands, who has performed well at lock in Jones’ absence, unfortunate to be dropped to the bench for Wales’ final game of this season’s Six Nations.
“It’s really difficult, because the boys in the second row [Rowlands and Adam Beard] have done a really good job,” said Biggar.
“They have done incredibly well, and Al would acknowledge that.
“But when you’ve got a player of his calibre and pedigree, if he is back fit, it is very difficult not to select him with what he has given to the jersey.”
Players to Watch
For Wales: All eyes will be on Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones as they reach their milestones. They have been great servants for Welsh rugby, and they will want to put in special performances. Looking out wide, Wales have plenty of pace with Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Johnny McNicholl, while Uilisi Halaholo is a powerhouse in the midfield. In the pack, Wales have a dynamic front row in the form of Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi and Seb Davies.
For Italy: After scoring two tries off the bench against Scotland last weekend, Grenoble fullback Ange Capuozzo gets a start and he can cause some problems if he gets enough space out wide. Flyhalf Paolo Garbisi has the x-factor and if he gets some good quality ball then he can ask a lot of questions on attack. Captain Michele Lamaro is a robust player with ball in hand and he can be a nuisance at the breakdowns as well.
@rugby365com: Wales by 20 points.
Wales: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Uilisi Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Seb Davies, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Leonardo Marin, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 David Sisi, 20 Niccolò Cannone, 21 Braam Steyn, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Marco Zanon.
Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.15 (15.15 Italian time; 14.15 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be sunny with a moderate. High of 15°C and a low of 4°C.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)
AFP & @rugby365com