Coombs feeling the pressure
Andrew Coombs has been the individual success story of Wales' RBS 6 Nations campaign this season.
But 28-year-old Newport Gwent Dragons lock accepts the pressure will be on him when the reigning champions head to Rome for an appointment with Italy. Coombs' Test debut came against a back-drop of injured locks, with 67 times-capped Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris all sidelined as Wales built towards their Six Nations title defence.
But he has been a revelation alongside second-row partner Ian Evans, and at this stage, Jones has a fight on his hands to re-establish himself in the starting XV. "I just want to keep my game going, play as I have done in the first two games and retain my jersey," Coombs said.
"My form is good at the moment, and if I can keep the jersey for this campaign then there is a tour of Japan in the summer. I am just looking to win as many caps as I can. There is a lot of pressure on me this week, and thankfully they have put the trust in me to go back out there and hopefully put another performance in."
Coombs says there is no secret to his success, and such a level-headed approach has won many admirers, both on and off the pitch.
"I've just got to go there and work hard. If do that then hopefully things will happen for me," he added.
"I always base my game on work-rate. I am not the sort of player that is going to set the world on fire or make 60-yard breaks. I am there to work hard, hit rucks, carry ball and tackle. That's what I am trying to do."
Jones can expect some game-time in Rome, which could then give Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley a selection headache for the final two Six Nations fixtures next month against Scotland and England.
"Alun-Wyn is a fantastic player, and I have always enjoyed watching him," Coombs said. "His workrate is phenomenal. He is a class act, he has won 67 caps, been a British Lion and has been there and done it."
The Wales squad will leave for Rome later on Thursday, with Howley having selected an unchanged team following a first victory over France in Paris for eight years.