Six Nations
Wales sweat on Davies fitness
ESPNscrum Staff
February 21, 2011

Centre Jonathan Davies is a fitness doubt for Wales' Six Nations clash against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Scarlets star is battling to overcome a hamstring injury suffered when Wales beat Scotland 24-6 at Murrayfield nine days ago.

"Jon is a doubt at the minute," Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins revealed earlier today. "He is doing rehab and stuff, and we will have another look at him tomorrow. Hopefully he can make it. He hasn't done a great deal with us since the Scotland game, other than rehab. We will wait and see what happens."

if Davies is ruled out of the Stadio Flaminio game, Wales coach Warren Gatland could opt to switch the versatile James Hook from fly-half to the No.12 shirt or Rhys Priestland could be drafted into the starting line-up.

Gatland is due to name his match-day 22 tomorrow and is set to minimise the risk of a botched Italian job by shelving his selection approach from two years ago. The Wales boss made nine changes the last time Wales faced Italy at Stadio Flaminio, including six up-front, where the likes of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones and Martyn Williams were all rested. And it almost backfired before Gatland's team ground out a 20-15 win after trailing at half-time.

Gatland might also ponder a recall for Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny, who missed the England and Scotland games due to injury but is now back in training. But outside of those two areas, he is unlikely to tinker with a team that won its first game in nine Tests by toppling Scotland.

"We nearly come unstuck (in Rome) two years ago. It is not easy to change players, with them coming in and out," said Jenkins. "You see that with any sport in that a lot of sides that make changes more often than not struggle in that game, whoever they play against.

"We were lucky to come through two years ago. I think we've got to pick our strongest possible side. We've only had one win in the last nine, and it is a big game for us. Obviously, 'Gats' picks the team, but I would have thought our strongest possible side will be on the pitch in Rome. We know it is going to be very tough. We need another win - we want to back up what we did in Scotland, and we need to play well."

Italy's rollercoaster tournament has so far seen them go within a late Ronan O'Gara drop-goal of beating Ireland, before Chris Ashton and company ran riot at Twickenham as England scored eight tries. It is difficult to predict which Italian team will turn up next Saturday, yet Jenkins is braced for a reponse after Twickenham.

"Anyone who gets smashed in sport normally comes back in their next game and are right up for it. Italy, at home, will certainly be right up for us," he said. "Italy are not as strong away from home as they are at home, so we've got to take that into account and look more at the Ireland game and what they did there, rather than what happened against England.

"England have improved no end. From anywhere on the park, they are playing some great rugby, hitting the ball at pace and they are causing sides a lot of problems at the moment. "For us, we would like to continue what we did in the first 25 minutes against Scotland, when I thought we played exceptional rugby. We kept the scoreboard ticking over, we got 16-0 up, and that's what we want. It's common sense next Saturday. We know it is going to be a very tough game, but we know what is expected of us, and if we play like we can play then we can certainly win the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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