Six Nations
Injuries force Gatland's hand ahead of Italy clash
ESPN Staff
March 17, 2015
Samson Lee was forced off in the first half of Wales' victory over Ireland last Saturday © Getty Images

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made two injury-enforced changes for next Saturday's Six Nations clash against Italy in Rome.

Props Gethin Jenkins (hamstring) and Samson Lee (Achilles) both miss out due to the injuries they suffered during the 23-16 victory over Ireland.

Scarlets forward Rob Evans and Ospreys tighthead Aaron Jarvis are their respective replacements, while there are call-ups on the bench for hooker Ken Owens, props Rhys Gill and Scott Andrews and scrum-half Gareth Davies, with Mike Phillips missing out.

Owens lines up among the substitutes instead of Gloucester hooker Richard Hibbard, who had been following return-to-play protocols after taking a blow to his head during the Ireland game.

Saracens forward Gill, meanwhile, gains a match-day place after only joining the squad for training on Monday, while Davies - a livewire operator and consistent try-scorer for the Scarlets - gets his chance instead of the hugely-experienced Phillips.

In terms of the starting line-up, it will be Evans' full Wales debut after he went on as a replacement for Jenkins at half-time last Saturday, with Jarvis continuing instead of Lee, who was carried off inside the opening 15 minutes against Ireland.

Lee was due to see a specialist in London on Monday for a full assessment of his injury, which could conceivably impact on Wales' World Cup plans if he is sidelined for a lengthy period.

Wales, meanwhile, will head to the Stadio Olimpico lying third in the Six Nations table behind England and Ireland on points difference.

A comprehensive victory over Italy, though, would turn up the heat on their title rivals, with Ireland tackling Scotland at Murrayfield next Saturday, followed by England hosting France at Twickenham.

"It was great to get the result we wanted in front of our home supporters last weekend and to give us a chance going into the last round of action," Gatland said. "Obviously, it's disappointing for Gethin and Samson, but Rob and Aaron stepped up well last weekend and we expect the same on Saturday.

"The challenge to us is to go to Italy and win, and try to win by a significant margin, but we know that's an extremely tough ask and the first job will be to simply get the result.

"Italy build their confidence around the scrum and lineout drive, and that is an area we are going to have to compete strongly in at the start of the match."

Wales have won five of their previous seven Six Nations visits to Rome, highlighted by a 38-8 victory in 2005.

And they are going to need something similar - if not better - if they are to realistically have a chance of securing their third Six Nations title in four years.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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