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Howley: Six Nations scheduling puts Wales at a disadvantage

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has called for the final round of Six Nations matches to be played simultaneously, to avoid teams having the advantage of a later kick-off.

Howley has said the final day scheduling puts Wales at a disadvantage. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tournament leaders England play France at Twickenham in the late match tomorrow, knowing exactly what they need to do to lift the trophy with Wales and Ireland having already played.

Howley claims that scheduling puts Wales at a clear disadvantage to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2013, while preventing a more exciting conclusion if the final games were played at the same time.

"I do really enjoy the last day of the Premiership football where you have everyone listening to their radios for the scores...The drama of that situation is unique. It would be unique in rugby and it should be the case in the Six Nations...In terms of all of us kicking off at the same time there would be some drama in the game knowing what changes had to be made and the message that needed to be got onto the pitch."

– Rob Howley, Wales Assistant Coach
Wales picked up an impressive win over Ireland in their last Six Nations encounter. Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Wales have won on their last three visits to Rome, but Howley believes that recent record counts for nothing heading into tomorrow's game.

"Going first up it's important we win the game, although I am not too sure what we will do will be enough...Ireland and England will have the opportunity after our game to know what they have to do, which is always a good thing...That could be a hindrance to us but we have to focus on our game and make sure we win."

– Rob Howley, Wales Assistant Coach

Wales kick off their game with Italy tomorrow afternoon at 12:30.

Howley eyeing strong Wales finish

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley feels the final round of RBS 6 Nations matches should be played simultaneously to stop teams having the advantage of a later kick-off.

Tournament leaders England will kick-off against France at Twickenham on Saturday evening knowing exactly what they need to do to win the title with fellow contenders Ireland and Wales having played earlier in the day.

England's points difference is four better than Ireland, who travel to play Scotland at Murrayfield, and 25 more than Wales who open the championship's final weekend of action with a lunchtime appointment in Italy.

Howley claims that scheduling puts Wales at a clear disadvantage to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2013 while preventing a more exciting conclusion if the final games were played at the same time.

I do really enjoy the last day of the Premiership football where you have everyone listening to their radios for the scores.

The drama of that situation is unique. It would be unique in rugby and it should be the case in the Six Nations.

In terms of all of us kicking off at the same time there would be some drama in the game knowing what changes had to be made and the message that needed to be got onto the pitch

– Rob Howley, Wales Assistant Coach

Rugby fans flying to Italy warned of air strike 'disruption'

Cardiff Airport is warning fans flying to Italy for Wales' last Six Nations game to check for potential disruption before they fly.

Wales fans celebrating during the Six Nations game against France Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Air traffic controllers in Italy plan to strike tomorrow, when many supporters are likely to fly out to Rome for Saturday's match.

Cardiff Airport says passengers should check with their airlines directly for any changes to their schedule.

Davies predicts nervy finale

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Wales star Jonathan Davies expects so-called Super Saturday to be a "pretty twitchy" business when this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship hurtles towards a climax this weekend.

Wales face a lunchtime appointment with Italy in Rome and could then endure the best part of a five-hour wait before discovering if they have done enough to be crowned Six Nations champions for the third time in four years.

Leaders England, second-placed Ireland and Wales, in third, are all on six points, but England's points difference is currently 25 better than Wales', while Ireland have a 21-point advantage on Davies and company.

Wales, though, can throw down the challenge to their title rivals by cutting loose against an injury-hit Italian side that was crushed 29-0 at home by France just three days ago.

But even if Wales win the Six Nations, there will be no trophy presentation until after they return home on Sunday, with organisers deciding to send the original Six Nations trophy to Twickenham and its solitary replica being paraded at Murrayfield, where Ireland tackle Scotland.

I am sure we'll find a trophy somewhere, like a plastic cup or something!

Obviously, people are doubting us and don't think we're going to be involved. But we just worry about ourselves, concentrate on ourselves and on putting a performance together that hopefully means we can get the cup on Sunday.

We will all be pretty twitchy, I assume, although there are a couple of boys who can just go off and switch off.

I think the boys will be watching the other games. There is a dinner afterwards and I am sure the phones will be checked for score updates, but hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to put pressure on the opposition.

It's a tough ask but I think we can do it. We've reacted well in the past to certain situations like this. It's an exciting time for us.

– Jonathan Davies, Wales centre

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Jones not an option for Gatland

Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

Wales boss Warren Gatland says he will not be "going on bended knees" to celebrated prop Adam Jones following his retirement from Test rugby.

Jones, who has won 95 Wales caps and played in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions, made his surprise announcement earlier this season.

Wales are without current first-choice props Gethin Jenkins and Samson Lee through injury for their final RBS 6 Nations game against Italy in Rome on Saturday, while experienced Bath loosehead Paul James is also injured.

Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis will start in Rome, with Rhys Gill and Scott Andrews providing prop cover on the bench, while uncapped Exeter tighthead Tomas Francis is also part of Wales' Six Nations squad.

Many pundits, though, believe 34-year-old Jones could still do a job for Wales, especially in a World Cup year.

I was surprised at the timing of his (retirement) announcement. He was not out of our thoughts. We had played a little bit of phone tag, leaving messages and going backwards and forwards.

If he has changed his mind and wants to get on the phone and say I made a rash decision, retired too early and want to be part of the World Cup squad, that is a different conversation.

At the moment, I will not be going on bended knees ringing him saying 'please come back we really desperately need you'. For us, it is about dealing with the other players.

The players we have got at the moment have all the potential. We need to continue to build some more depth.

– Warren Gatland, Wales Head Coach

Two front row changes for Wales ahead of Italy clash

Wales have made two changes in their front-row to face Italy on Saturday, with Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis coming into the starting fifteen.

The duo replace the injured Gethin Jenkins and Samson Lee, respectively, in an otherwise unchanged team which will take to the field at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Wales' Samson Lee leaves the field on a stretcher during Saturday's match after injuring his achilles. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Wales team to face Italy:

Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements:

Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets).

Six Nations: Wales to name team to face Italy

Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his team to face Italy.

He has a few injury worries, including tight-head prop Samson Lee, who was seeing a specialist in London yesterday and has already been ruled out of this weekend's appointment in Rome.

Lee suffered an Achilles injury and was carried off inside the first quarter of Wales' 23-16 victory over Ireland.

His fellow prop Gethin Jenkins departed at half-time due to hamstring trouble, while replacement hooker Richard Hibbard is following concussion protocols.

It is understood Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis are in pole position to start as props.

Wales are in third place in the table but the points difference mean they have to notch up a big victory against the Azzurri.

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