Italy vs Wales preview: Warren Gatland ‘won’t beg’ Adam Jones to help Wales out of injury crisis

Wales are without Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins for Italy clash

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The Wales coach, Warren Gatland, has no plans to go on bended knee to urge Adam Jones to come out of international retirement.

Tight-head prop Samson Lee is no better than 50-50 to be fit for this autumn’s World Cup after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the win against Ireland on Saturday and will undergo surgery next week.

Lee’s absence leaves Wales thin on their options at tight head, with Jones having announced his international retirement after missing out on Gatland’s initial Six Nations squad.

On Monday, the forwards coach, Robin McBryde, appeared to open the way for a return to the fold for Jones, but Gatland, who made one of his initial tasks when appointed Wales coach in 2007 to coax Martyn Williams back into a Welsh jersey, is not about to do the same.

“Not at this stage,” he said when asked if he planned to hold talks with Jones about a possible return. “If he has changed his mind and wants to get on the phone and say, ‘I made a rash decision, retired too early and want to be part of the World Cup squad’, that is a different conversation. But at the moment I will not be going on bended knee, ringing him, saying, ‘Please come back, we desperately need you’. For us, it is about dealing with the other players.”

Lee’s absence and a Gethin Jenkins hamstring injury have forced two changes in the front row to face Italy in their final Six Nations match on Saturday from the team that beat Ireland. Rob Evans will make his first start in Rome, with Aaron Jarvis also in the starting line-up.

Lee, 22, had made a huge impact since coming into the international set-up. He had been due to undergo surgery on Monday but heavy swelling meant the operation has been delayed.

As for his chances of being fit for the World Cup, Gatland said: “Fifty-fifty. That’s a six-month injury. For everyone with that sort of injury, it can be two or three weeks either side. He might be lucky.”

There are changes on the bench, too, with Rhys Gill, Ken Owens and Scott Andrews given call-ups, with Richard Hibbard also ruled out. Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies takes Mike Phillips’ place among the replacements.

Wales go into the final round of games level on points with England and Ireland but needing a big points haul against the Italians to have aspirations of a third title in four years.

The organisers see England as the likeliest champions, with the Six Nations trophy at Twickenham on Saturday and a replica at Murrayfield, where Ireland play. Should Wales triumph, they would have to wait until Sunday to receive the trophy in Cardiff.

“We can understand from the points difference that they are taking one to Twickenham and one to Edinburgh,” Gatland said. “I don’t think they anticipated that going into the last weekend there would be three teams – potentially France as well – having a chance of  winning the Championship.”

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