Wales out to make history on the road
WALES will tomorrow aim to create a little slice of championship history by claiming a fourth successive away win for the first time in 34 years.
Rob Howley and his squad flew out to Rome yesterday looking to back up their morale-boosting victory over France in Paris by lowering the colours of Italy at the Stadio Olimpico. Having won in Dublin and then at Twickenham on their way to the Grand Slam last season, Wales are looking to bag four in a row on the road in the championship for the first time since the greats of the seventies achieved the same feat.
Victory will also keep them firmly in contention for another first — back-to-back Six Nations titles.
Wales will be making their debut in Italian rugby's temporary home and skipper Ryan Jones is relishing the chance to savour the atmosphere of the 82,000 venue.
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"As international players you want to perform at the best arenas in front of the biggest crowds, that's what motivates you," said the Osprey.
"We must embrace it not shy away from it. We have to excel.
"We want to start like we finished against Ireland and France and set our stall out."
Italy have handed the captaincy to Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni in the absence of the suspended Sergio Parisse, who has been banned for 30 days for abusing a referee while playing for Stade Francais in the Top14 last weekend.
Fijian-born No. 8 Manoa Vosawai is drafted into the side, while Treviso club-mates Kristopher Burton and Edoardo Gori have been named at half-back to take the Italian club's starting contingent to ten.
Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies will again be Wales's midfield partnership, as they have been for the last nine championship outings.
Davies endured an indifferent start to the campaign against Ireland, but Roberts believes the Scarlet remains one of the best centres in the game.
"Jon will freely admit he had a poor match against Ireland and he took some stick over it for a couple of days.
"But one bad game does not make him a poor player," he said.
"He has not had many bad games in a Welsh jersey and on his day he is one of the best centres in world rugby."