Wales face Six Nations competitors Italy In Rome on Saturday, with the possibility of hanging the first wooden spoon since 2003.

It’s been over a year since Wales won their Six Nations match and they are heading to the Eternal City after losing consecutively to Ireland, Scotland and England.

Here are some of the key talking points leading up to the Stadio Olimpico clash.

Wooden spoon on the table

The figurative “prize” with which the country ended the Six Nations went to Italy 17 times, Scotland four times, Wales once and France once, but it’s been 20 years since Wales went through such a disgrace. New Zealand friend of Warren Gatland Steve Hansen was responsible in that event, Wales’ acquittal was confirmed in a 33-5 loss to France in Paris. Wales head to the French capital on Saturday where they’ll be out of order – Italy battling Scotland at Murrayfield on the same day – so this weekend represents their best chance to finish off a dismal streak. Seven consecutive wins at Rome will encourage Wales, but form is in favor of the Azzurri, who have shown much more quality than their rivals so far this season.

Wales on hind leg

Results-oriented business, the professional sport, can be a brutal place at times and Wales cannot hide from it. They’re probably the only team in this season’s Six Nations that seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Three consecutive tournament defeats – and just 27 points and three tries scored – come after nine defeats from 12 starts in 2022, when Wales suffered humiliating home losses against Italy and Georgia under Gatland’s Wales coaching predecessor. Wayne Pivac. They showed promising looks at this season’s Six Nations, but they’ve also been brutally punished for terrible discipline (more than 40 accepted penalties), a chronic lack of creativity, and missed opportunities when the odds arise. They are not under the table by accident.

Italy must turn its promise into victory

While much has been said about the oppression that Wales was subjected to, Italy knows it must surrender. While the Azzurri have been causing issues for their Six Nations rivals France, England and Ireland, all three, they’ve no doubt made significant progress under their head coach Kieran Crowley, who underscored an exciting Autumn Nations Series victory against Australia. matches ended in defeat. star player of italy Ange Capuozzo he is currently sidelined for injury, but they still have a lot of threats both in front and behind the offense. The Azzurri need a win to justify their words and Wales are arguably vulnerable. Can they deliver?

Joe Hawkins is a shining light

He may be only 20 years old, but Wales center Joe Hawkins has had success on the international stage in four Test matches. He made his Wales debut by Pivac against Australia in November and impressed the Six Nations with maturity beyond his years. Don’t be surprised if he manages to become a captain at some point, though. Dan Biggar As Wales half fly. “Dan Carter played at age 12 in the early years of his career and then moved on to 10 and I think Joe could probably be similar in that regard,” said Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins. “Obviously he’s a great 12 and there’s no doubt he could easily become a 10 over time.”

What’s next for Wales?

Gatland has always enjoyed preparing for World Cup campaigns. A period of overlapping results, where he took long training blocks with players and Wales reached the World Cup semi-finals in two of the last three coaching tournaments. There are key players who are not in the current Six Nations campaign and could return – notably forwards Will Rowlands, Josh Navidi and Dewi Lake – and promising young talents such as Hawkins, Mason Grady, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza and Jac Morgan will go the extra mile. It’s time when Wales arrives for the global show hosted by France later this year, but it remains a difficult task for Gatland to turn things around.