'Wales can cope without Hardy'
REACTION: Wales have three scrumhalves who are “good to go” according to assistant coach Stephen Jones.
His reaction follows the news that Kieran Hardy was ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations with a hamstring problem.
Hardy, who scored a try during the Triple Crown-clinching 40-24 victory over England in Cardiff last Saturday, was injured later in that match.
The 25-year-old has since been released from the squad and will miss tournament leaders Wales’ fixtures against Italy and France later this month.
Fellow scrumhalf Tomos Williams suffered a hamstring injury of his own during Wales’ opening win over Ireland last month and has not played since.
Williams, however, is back in training and could be in contention to face Italy in Rome on March 13, with Wales coach Wayne Pivac also able to call on Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams at scrumhalf.
“Where that leaves us with scrumhalves is simple – we have got three left in the squad who are good to go,” Jones told a conference call, after the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed Hardy had been ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations.
“Kieran has worked particularly hard at his game. We thought his performance was excellent on the weekend, and it is unfortunate for him that he’s not in a position to be able to back that up.”
Wales are five points clear at the top of the table, although second-placed France, who are also unbeaten, have a game in hand after their fixture against Scotland was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Les Bleus’ camp.
Wales, bidding for a second Grand Slam in three years, will be overwhelming favourites to beat Italy given the Azzurri have lost their last 30 Six Nations matches against all opponents.
But former Wales flyhalf Jones said: “We respect Italy…They are a very physical outfit, and also from my own perspective, we have got a lot to improve on in our attacking game.
“It is a big hurdle for us, and all our energy goes into that. We don’t look any further than our next game.”