Rugby

Adam Beard calls on Wales to stand and be counted against Italy

The Principality Stadium clash will be a tense wooden-spoon decider.

Adam Beard says that Wales must handle the pressure against Italy
Adam Beard Adam Beard says that Wales must handle the pressure against Italy (David Davies/PA)

Adam Beard says there can be no “ifs or buts” for Wales when it comes to dealing with the pressure of a Guinness Six Nations wooden-spoon showdown against Italy.

Wales are one defeat away from their worst Six Nations campaign in terms of results since 2003, when they lost all five games.

Narrow reversals against Scotland and England were followed by more comprehensive setbacks at the hands of Ireland and France, leaving Wales four points adrift at the basement.

And they will face an Italy team next Saturday buoyed by a stirring victory over Scotland, which underlined impressive strides being made under new head coach Gonzalo Quesada.

Beard was part of Six Nations title-winning teams in 2019 – when Wales also secured a Grand Slam – and 2021, but he now finds himself trying to help his country stave off receiving the tournament’s most unwanted tag.

“We’ve got to deal with it, there are no ifs or buts now,” said Beard.

“We have got to deal with it, and we’ve got to deal with it pretty quickly. Hopefully, when it comes to it, we will be right on point and we will deal with that pressure well and get the win.

Italy players celebrate after scoring a late try against Wales during the 2022 Six Nations
Italy Italy players celebrate after scoring a late try against Wales during the 2022 Six Nations (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s huge. There is nothing we can do but win that game, otherwise you know what is going to happen.

“It is a must-win game, so we are going to be hungry and willing to go to the well for 80 minutes.”

Italy’s win against Scotland was their first Six Nations success on home soil for 11 years, while they head to Cardiff having triumphed there two years ago thanks to Edoardo Padovani’s try that Paolo Garbisi converted with the game’s final kick.

Away from the Test arena, further improvement has been underlined by leading Italian team Benetton’s bid to reach the United Rugby Championship title-play-offs, having lost only three league games this season.

And Beard added: “It was an unbelievable win for them (against Scotland), and they are probably going to be on a massive high coming to the Principality Stadium.

“Over the last (number of) years I have played against them, it has been a tough Test match every single time.

“Their game-management, how structured they are – it is not a loose game from them any more – and they have got exciting players.

“They have got a very good team on paper and they are putting in some good performances, and we have got to be on point to get the win.

Tomos Williams was one of Wales’ try-scorers against France
Tomos Wiliams Tomos Williams was one of Wales’ try-scorers against France (David Davies/PA)

“Hopefully, everyone who is watching Welsh rugby can see that (while) we haven’t got a win yet, there are lots of positives that have come out of these games and we are not far off being an unbelievable side.

“We like to pride ourselves on being a tough team to beat. We want to get those results and we want them now.

“We are not happy with just being a young side getting good exposure, we do want to get those wins now. International rugby is about winning, so it would be nice to put in an 80-minute performance next Saturday.

“Look, we can’t put too much pressure on ourselves because sometimes that goes the other way then, and it might spiral backwards.

“If we get our stuff right and put in that 80-minute performance, I have no doubt this squad will get the win.”