Rugby

Josh Adams says Wales ‘can’t afford to lose’ Six Nations clash with Italy

Wales last finished bottom of the Six Nations in 2003.

Wales wing Josh Adams knows the pressure will be on against Italy
Josh Adams Wales wing Josh Adams knows the pressure will be on against Italy (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Josh Adams says that Wales must not “shy away” from what awaits them in the pressure-filled cauldron of a wooden spoon decider against Italy.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has played host to Six Nations title successes and witnessed Grand Slam glory, but the contrast this weekend could hardly be greater.

There is no silverware at stake, just the Guinness Six Nations’ mythical “prize” for finishing bottom of the table. And this season it is a straight shoot-out between Wales and Italy.

Wales, currently four points adrift of their fifth-placed opponents, must win to have any chance of avoiding a first wooden spoon since 2003.

Even victory might not be enough if bonus points come into play, and Wales wing Adams accepts that the heat is on.

“It is a bit of a different pressure,” he said.

“Pressure when you are in a game to win something, it feels a little bit different. There is something at the end of it, whereas this is a situation where we can’t afford to lose.

Wales were consigned to a Six Nations wooden spoon in 2003 after losing to France in Paris
Wales Wales were consigned to a Six Nations wooden spoon in 2003 after losing to France in Paris (David Davies/PA)

“We have to have the mindset that international rugby is all about winning, and we haven’t been able to do that yet. We are desperate to win.

“I have been in a relegation battle in the Premiership with Worcester. We lost our first seven games of the season and we were miles adrift at the bottom.

“It came down to a game against London Irish, where it was pretty much whoever won would stay up. This is similar in a way.

“You have to embrace it and not shy away from it. We can’t go in our shells and cover up.

Italy players celebrate after beating Wales in the 2022 Six Nations
Wales Italy players celebrate after beating Wales in the 2022 Six Nations (David Davies/PA)

“We have had the mentality of ‘let’s take this head-on, let’s be at our best this weekend and let’s finish with what we feel we deserve, which is a good victory’.

“Sometimes you learn best from your losses, but there are only learnings if you show improvements the following week, otherwise there is no point.

“I won my first Test at home against Scotland, then lost away against England and I didn’t lose for nine Tests after that. I was in a team that didn’t know how to lose.

“That is the sort of journey we are going to have to get to where it becomes second-nature where we understand how to close games out, how to squeeze opposition better and see tough Test matches out.

“International rugby is a cut-throat business, and you need to perform at your best every week if you want to win.”

Wales’ last Six Nations victory was against Italy in Rome 12 months ago, while the Azzuri triumphed 22-21 on their most recent Cardiff visit in 2022 when try-scorer Adams was named player of the match and promptly gave his medal to visiting full-back Ange Capuozzo.

That match was Alun Wyn Jones 150th Wales cap and Dan Biggar’s 100th, while this time around the game is George North’s farewell appearance before retiring from Test rugby.

“I would like to think we can send off George with a win and not have a repeat of the result when Dan and Al reached their incredible milestones,” Adams added.

“It is important we do something for George. He has had so many memorable moments for Wales, and his contribution to Welsh rugby has been incredible.

“There are no real words to sum him up. I would just like to say ‘thank you’ for the way he has helped me.”