Jenkins: Wales want a fast start to help title bid

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins has revealed that they plan to replicate last week’s storming start against Ireland when they play Italy in Rome in the Six Nations.

Wales have an outside chance of winning the Six Nations but they will need to pile on the points against Italy and hope that England and Ireland lose.

“One thing we did incredibly well last week was start very well and obviously take the scoreboard over,” assistant coach Neil Jenkins said in Rome on Friday.

“If we can go with the same game plan tomorrow in terms of trying to be as accurate as we were in those first 10 to 15 minutes last week, then I think that will put ourselves in a good position.

“We’ve recovered very well this week… the boys know how important tomorrow is. It’s an opportunity for us to give ourselves a chance to win the championship.”

A battling 23-16 win over Ireland in Cardiff last week left Wales sitting third in the table level on points with leaders England and Ireland, and still in with a chance of winning the tournament on the final day.

But for Wales to triumph they must beat Italy and hope England and Ireland fail to win their respective fixtures at home to France and away to Scotland.

If England, Ireland and Wales win their respective matches, the trophy will be handed to the team with the largest points difference — and Wales currently trail England and Ireland by 25 and 21 points respectively.

Although Wales need points, Jenkins insists the focus is firmly on securing victory.

“The main focus for us is winning the test match. If other things happen, then so be it. But I’m sure we’d be kicking ourselves if we didn’t win this match,” the legendary former Wales fly-half added.

“The main objective is to win the game, see where that takes us and if it puts us in front on points, great. If not, we’ll watch the other games with interest.”

Italy, whose only win came against Scotland (22-19) at Murrayfield, are looking for massive improvement after a 29-0 rout by France in Rome.

Jacques Brunel’s team are missing influential captain Sergio Parisse, due to an ankle injury, but welcome back fly-half Kelly Haimona and experienced prop Martin Castrogiovanni.

Jenkins hailed the impact of “world class” Parisse, but believes the Azzurri will make up for his absence.

“Sergio is a fantastic rugby player, he’s a world class No.8 and no matter what side he plays in, if he’s not playing they’re obviously going to miss him,” said Jenkins.

“But, they have good players in their back row. People who have come back into the team and played in the past.

“Every time we come here it’s been a very tough game. In general we’ve been successful, but not by much, so we’re expecting another tough game tomorrow.

“We played them two years ago and they didn’t have Sergio and they were pretty strong. It was a pretty tough test match.

“Italy would be very disappointed about how they played last Sunday, but I’m sure they’re going to be much improved tomorrow and I’m sure they will cause us lots of problems.”

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