Wales need to win by a margin at least equal to their record win in the competition – a 38 -8 trouncing of Italy in 2005 – if they are going to give themselves a chance to claim the title. They currently sit third in the table, although they have amassed the same points as England in first and Ireland in second.
The issue is Wales have conceded almost the same amount of points they have scored in the championship, compared to England who have scored almost double what they have conceded. Fortunately, Italy may provide a chance to redress this balance, but Gatland’s side cannot take this for granted.
He announced his team at 11am and he has only removed those not fit to play. The two props – Samson Lee, who suffered what looked to be a broken ankle on Saturday, but turned out to be an achilles injury and Gethin Jenkins will not feature. They have been replaced with Scarlets loose-head Rob Evans and Ospreys tight-head Aaron Jarvis.
Scott Williams, who scored a glorious try at the Millennium Stadium against Ireland, will be disappointed to be on the bench, after Jamie Roberts’ recent performances.
Wales will be heartened by the news the Italian’s world-class Sergio Parisse is 50/50 to play with soft tissue damage to his right foot. Dog bite victim Martin Castrogiovanni is back in the squad and likely to start, but Gatland will be hoping Parisse does not line-up alongside him.
Gatland said: “The challenge for us is to go to Italy and win, and try and win by a significant margin, but we know that’s an extremely tough ask.”