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Wales hit by injuries

Wales are continuing to take stock of injuries suffered during a punishing RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland two days ago as they prepare for their final title push.

Tight-head prop Samson Lee, who was seeing a specialist in London on Monday, has already been ruled out of next weekend's appointment with Italy in Rome.

Lee suffered an Achilles injury and was carried off inside the first quarter of Wales' 23-16 victory over Ireland, and his fellow prop Gethin Jenkins departed at half-time due to hamstring trouble.

Replacement hooker Richard Hibbard, meanwhile, is following concussion protocols, and squad lock Bradley Davies has returned to Aviva Premiership club Wasps after suffering a shoulder injury while on domestic duty.

Uncapped 22-year-old Exeter prop Tomas Francis, who was invited to train with Wales last week, has now officially joined their Six Nations squad and could conceivably feature on the bench at Stadio Olimpico.

And Saracens prop Rhys Gill is training with the squad as cover for Jenkins. Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up on Tuesday, with Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis seemingly in pole position as starting props.

"Samson is seeing a specialist in London, and out of the Italy game," Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde said.

"Gethin Jenkins' hamstring is being reviewed by medics, and Richard Hibbard is undergoing concussion protocols on Monday and Tuesday."

Despite their front-row injury situation, Wales will not be turning to 95 times-capped Adam Jones, who surprisingly announced his retirement from Test rugby earlier this season.

"It was his decision in the first place to hang up his boots on the international front," McBryde added.

"There is no need to call him at the moment. As far as I'm concerned, he has announced his retirement. At the moment, we have enough strength in depth."

Wales will head to Italy holding third place in the Six Nations table, but level on points with title rivals England and Ireland.

Their points difference is more than 20 worse than both England and Ireland, though, so they will need to cut loose against the Azzurri to have any realistic chance of claiming a third Six Nations title in four years.

Wales have a lunchtime kick-off, with their game being followed by Ireland's clash against Scotland at Murrayfield, then England hosting France on so-called 'super Saturday'.

"The spirit is good, and by keeping us in the hunt for the title, everyone has come in with that appetite and an edge to build on the momentum for the last few days," McBryde said.

"It helps that we are on first (next Saturday). We don't know what the situation will be at the end of play. We have to win the game first.

"Italy have strengths of their own, and you have to base any victory on defence and making sure that's in place before you turn your efforts into scoring.

"We are going to be dealing with a wounded animal on Saturday. They will be hugely disappointed with their performance against France (Italy lost 29-0 at home) and I am sure they will be looking to finish on a high.

"That makes them more dangerous. We have seen so far in the Six Nations up until the 60-minute mark that Italy have been in the game and competing.

"Their victory against Scotland proves their calibre. We know it's not going to be easy, so we are going there just to try and get a result.

"What happens the rest of the day, we are not in control of. We are not thinking about the points difference. We are just going there for the win.

"It's the last competitive game with something riding on it before the World Cup, and we have to treat it as such.

"It's all about Saturday and building on the momentum we've already created and just making sure we finish on a high."

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