Wales name team to face Italy in Six Nations wooden spoon decider as North and Tompkins return

Wales face Italy in the final round of the 2024 Six Nations and both sides will be looking to avoid the wooden spoon Credit: PA Images

Warren Gatland has made five changes to his Wales side for the Six Nations wooden spoon decider against Italy on Saturday, 16 March.

George North and Nick Tompkins return to the starting line-up in midfield to replace Owen Watkin and Joe Roberts, while captain Dafydd Jenkins reverts to lock, flanker Alex Mann starts at blindside and tight-head prop Dillon Lewis comes in for Keiron Assiratti.

Wales suffered their fourth consecutive defeat of this year's competition after being well beaten by France at the Principality Stadium last weekend.

Previous defeats to Scotland, England and Ireland mean Wales currently sit bottom of the Six Nation table, with a win against Italy being their only hope of finishing any higher.

Were they to suffer yet another defeat, it would be the first time Wales have finished last in the tournament since 2003.

Among the replacements, tighthead prop Harri O’Connor is in line to win his first senior international cap. Kemsley Mathias and Kieran Hardy are named in the matchday 23 as front-row and scrum-half cover respectively.

Warren Gatland's men are a squad in transition, but the head coach insists his side will sep up to this weekend's challenge.

He said: "This is an important game for us. We definitely don’t want to finish bottom and the squad is hungry to win.

"Italy have quality players throughout the side and have been good at taking opportunities when they get them to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

"We’re excited and will step up and welcome the challenge ahead. We’re still looking for that 80-minute performance and have spoken about needing to be better in the big moments especially.

"We understand that external pressure and expectation comes with international rugby. It’s about embracing that, continuing the hard work and fronting up in training to go out there and be accurate and disciplined on Saturday."

Wales: 15. Cameron Winnett, 14. Josh Adams, 13. George North, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Sam Costelow, 9. Tomos Williams, 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Elliot Dee, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Dafydd Jenkins, 5. Adam Beard, 6. Alex Mann, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: 16. Evan Lloyd, 17. Kemsley Mathias, 18. Harri O’Connor, 19. Will Rowlands, 20. Mackenzie Martin, 21. Kieran Hardy, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Mason Grady.

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