Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has handed a rest-week to in-form lock Adam Beard ahead of this weekend’s Six Nations clash in Rome.
Saturday will see winless Italy host unbeaten Wales at the Stadio Olimpico, with Pivac revealing his team as early as Tuesday.
And while he will travel to Rome, Ospreys second row Beard has been rested by Wales as he was deemed to be in need of ‘a break’ by Pivac. Cory Hill will take his place alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones, and Jake Ball has been promoted to the replacements.
“Adam (Beard) has had a pretty big workload in camp and he was pretty banged up. So we’re giving him a break this week. He’ll come to Rome with us but he won’t be part of the 23,” Pivac commented.
The hamstring injury to Kieran Hardy, which ruled the Scarlets star out of the rest of the tournament, has seen the scrum-half position one selection area for Pivac to mull over.
Despite expectations, Tomos Williams will not be ready to feature for Wales after rehabbing from a hamstring injury he suffered in the opening round victory over Ireland last month.
That has seen Pivac stick with the player who replaced Hardy off the bench in the 40-24 win over England in Gareth Davies.
The Scarlets No.9 is preferred to Lloyd Williams to partner Dan Biggar in the half-backs.
“Tomos is not quite ready after the hamstring he suffered in the Ireland game. He’s not far off – he’s running – but not quite ready to go this weekend,” Pivac added.
“Obviously, Gareth came off the bench in the last match. He’s been in the top two scrum-halves since Tomos has been out injured. We’ve just stuck with Gareth. He’s got a couple of things he’s working on. Speed to the breakdown is one we want from all our nines.
“We want to move ball and get it away from those breakdown areas quickly. That’s what he’ll be focusing on. Obviously Lloyd comes onto the bench after training very well.”
Previewing the match, Pivac understood that Italy are looking ahead to the future with the way they have approached this year’s tournament.
“They’re obviously planning ahead and made a lot of changes in the autumn. They’re building a side over a number of years looking towards the World Cup,” the Kiwi said.
“You’re seeing a more expansive game from Italy. They pose a few more problems from a defensive point of view than maybe they did a year ago. We’ll go out there and make sure our defence is in order. That’s been improving and we want to maintain that.
“We’ll put that challenge in front of the boys, but also in attack we want to be very decisive and take those opportunities when they present themselves.”
Wales team to face Italy in the 2021 Six Nations
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Cory Hill, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 6 Josh Navidi, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Uilisi Halaholo