Wales are feeling the pain but will be ready for World Cup, insists assistant coach Neil Jenkins… as Warren Gatland’s men seek to end dismal run in wooden spoon showdown against Italy
- Wales have lost their opening three matches in this year’s Six Nations
- They are at risk of their first Championship wooden spoon in two decades
- Italy also yet to win but did impress in defeats by France, England and Ireland
Wales have admitted their current pain on and off the field is hurting but there is a confidence among Warren Gatland’s squad they can turn the corner ahead of the World Cup.
Head coach Gatland has seen his players suffer three straight Six Nations defeats in 2023 while away from the action, the Welsh game is in a mess amid ongoing financial and contractual uncertainty.
A trip to Italy is next up for Wales on Saturday in a clash which is set to define who finishes bottom of the Championship pile. Both sides are yet to win this year.
But while Wales have been struggling badly, Italy have shown significant signs of improvement, especially in attack and have impressed against France, England and Ireland.
‘I don’t think it makes any difference to us whether we’re favourites or not,’ said Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins, who believes this is the strongest Italy team the country has had.
Assistant coach Neil Jenkins says Wales will have to be at their best against Italy on Saturday
Confidence among Warren Gatland’s squad they can turn the corner before the World Cup
‘We’ll have to be at our best on Saturday to win. The reality is we probably felt there was going to be some pain about us at this moment in time. We’re certainly feeling that.
‘But we have until September to get ourselves right and I believe we can do that. I’d like to think we’ll be going through the gears from now until then to give us a good chance at the World Cup.’
Gatland will name his side for Rome on Thursday knowing Wales must win at the Stadio Olimpico or risk further trouble. Wales haven’t lost all five of their Six Nations games since 2003.
They are at risk of their first Championship wooden spoon in two decades after dropping to 10th in World Rugby’s rankings following a run of 12 defeats in 15 games.
Simply put, Welsh rugby is in a big hole and there is significant work to do on the pitch and in the boardroom to turn things around.
This week, Wales No 8 Taulupe Faletau admitted it was ‘hard to give your all’ with players in Wales affected badly by the political trouble between the Welsh Rugby Union and its four regions.
‘It is not an ideal place to be in in any walk of life,’ Jenkins said, referring to the 90 Welsh-based players who are out of contract at the end of the season and unable to be offered new deals.
‘People have got homes, families, mortgages and bills. It is a tough time for the guys. The reality is we have got to keep trying to do what we can to the best of our ability to give ourselves a chance.’
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