Tomorrow is the third weekend of the 2013 6 Nations. There has been a fortnight’s break since the last round of matches, two weeks in which the Welsh squad have hopefully been able to build on their fantastic win against France in Paris so that they can go to Rome and get a victory against Italy.
On Tuesday (19th of February) Wales announced their team for Saturday. The surprise is that Sam Warburton, who is fit again after his shoulder injury, is not starting but is on the bench. This means that Ryan Jones will captain Wales for the second time this 6 Nations, despite Sam Warburton starting the 6 Nations as captain. I heard Rob Howley, the interim Welsh coach, on Tuesday describe Ryan Jones as a natural leader, and I think I am right in saying he has now captained Wales more times than anyone else in history. One of our other main players Alun Wyn Jones is also back fit after a long layoff and surgery, he too starts on the bench.
On the plus side, Wales have now put together 120 minutes of good rugby, the second half against Ireland and the whole match against France. But, we must not take Italy for granted. Although Italy disappointed against Scotland two weeks ago, they were just as good against France three weeks ago as Wales were two weeks ago. We have lost to Italy before in Rome, and if we lose tomorrow our 6 Nations will go completely off the rails.
If, however, Wales can win tomorrow, then I am optimistic that we can go to Scotland in two weeks’ time and win there. if we manage that, who knows what we can achieve in our final game against England at home in Cardiff in the last game of the 6 Nations.