Wales vs Italy Six Nations Preview: Who will win in the tournament opener?
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Luca Bigi of Italy and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales pose with the Six Nations Trophy during the Guinness Six Nations Launch at Tobacco Dock on January 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The opening game of the 2020 Six Nations will feature last year’s Grand Slam winners, as they host Italy. The Italians are certainly the underdogs heading into Saturday’s game as they failed to win a match in last seasons competition, and finished bottom of the table with zero points. 

 

A bounce back to form is required for Wales, following an unceremonious exit from last year’s World Cup, as they lost the third place match 40-17 to the All Blacks. Italy will be looking to disrupt the game as much as they can and stop Wales from kicking into a high gear. A win for the Azzurri would certainly be an upset, but they should not be written off anytime soon.

Team News

Wales team news is circling around the appointment of brand new Head Coach Wayne Pivac, who will have his first game in charge against Italy. Pivac took over the reins from Warren Gatland after the World Cup and has announced his first fifteen.

 

George North has been chosen to partner up with Hadleigh Parkes in the centres, as Jonathan Davies’ knee injury has ruled him out of the tournament. North is most known for his performances on the wing but has recently moved to the 13 shirt for his club. Pivac selected North ahead of Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin, who were all involved in the conversation for the opener against Italy.

 

Gloucester speedster Louis Rees-Zammitt will unfortunately have to wait another week before being selected for the national side. An ankle injury suffered against Toulouse limited his training time and has ruled him out of the match day squad of 23.

New Zealand born Johnny McNicholl will make his Welsh debut, as he is set to start on the right wing.

Italy’s long term serving captain Sergio Parisse has not been involved in the squad, due to speculation around him finishing his career. Hooker Luca Bigi has been given the captaincy for the game.

What the coaches have said: 

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac told Wales Online: 

"George (North) at centre, he's played a couple games there for the Ospreys which is great for us, and four starts for Wales in the centre, so it's not foreign to him." 

"George has trained very well, and he has taken the challenge up. He is very much looking forward to a fresh start, if you like."

Italy head coach Franco Smith on Italy Rugby's Twitter account (Credit rugby365) : 

"We have worked hard on and off the pitch to build synergy between the staff and the players."

“We know our potential and what we can give"

“I have faith in the team and can’t wait to see them on the pitch against Wales."

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