Six Nations 2018: Italy feel ‘no disrespect’ in Wales selection

Six Nations 2018: Italy feel 'no disrespect' in Wales selection
Conor O’Shea made 35 appearances for Ireland, scoring 44 points
Six Nations: Wales v Italy
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Sunday, 11 March Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea says his side feel no disrespect following Warren Gatland’s decision to make 10 changes for the Six Nations match.

Former Italy scrum-half Paul Griffen said the selection lacked respect but O’Shea disagrees.

“It’s lovely to make changes when you’ve got the ability to bring in quality,” said O’Shea.

Centre Giulio Bisegni replaces Tommaso Boni in Italy’s only change from their 34-17 defeat in France.

Former Wales captain Martyn Williams has suggested Gatland’s changes will help fire up the Italian team but O’Shea is happy that it is simply legitimate squad rotation on his opponents’ part.

“It’s not being disrespectful – you put guys like Liam Williams, George North and Toby Faletau in and they’re rotating their front row around, so there’s nothing in that,” he told BBC Sport Wales.

“They’re an outstanding side.”

Bath’s Taulupe Faletau will captain Wales against Italy with regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones rested

Wales backs coach Rob Howley also defended the selection.

“We have picked players we feel deserve that opportunity as well as players who have been injured,” said Howley.

“If you look at the word disrespectful, Taulupe Faletau, George North and Justin Tipuric are coming in [and are] Lions, so there is a fair amount of experience coming into that squad.

“Sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

“We were criticised last year for not giving players that opportunity and now when we have given that opportunity we are being disrespectful, which we are not.”

Winless Italy are bottom of the Six Nations table with two games left and have suffered 11 successive defeats against Wales.

O’Shea, who played under Warren Gatland for Ireland, believes Italy do have a chance of pulling off their first win in Cardiff, but only if they deliver their maximum performance.

Six Nations 2018: Gareth Davies on new cap James Davies and captain Taulupe Faletau

“You don’t go into any match thinking you can’t win, but if they play to their best and we play to ours, they probably win,” said O’Shea.

“We have to perform to our maximum all the time and understand we’ll be under a massive amount of pressure. It’s part of a huge learning process.”

O’Shea has no qualms about allowing the roof to be closed at the Principality Stadium, despite Italy’s traditional reliance on a forward-orientated game.

“I love reading people talking about Italy coming to scrum and maul,” he said. “Have you actually watched us play? It gets to me when I hear stereotyping, of all nations.”

Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Bisegni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Mbanda, Parisse (capt).

Replacements: Fabiani, Quaglio, Pasquali, Ruzza, Licata, Palazzani, Canna, Hayward.

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