Italy coach Conor O’Shea does not believe Warren Gatland has shown any disrespect by making 10 changes to his Wales side ahead of Sunday’s match in Cardiff.
The visitors are bottom of the Six Nations standings without a point after three matches, with Gatland now taking the opportunity to shuffle his pack for their visit.
Former Italy scrum-half Paul Griffen has claimed the changes are a sign of Wales lacking respect, but O’Shea does not agree.
“It’s lovely to make changes when you’ve got the ability to bring in quality,” he told BBC Wales.
“It’s not being disrespectful. You put guys like Liam Williams, George North and [Taulupe] Faletau in and they’re rotating their front row around, so there’s nothing in that. They’re an outstanding side.”
TEAM NEWS @taulupe returns to lead Wales against @Federugby. Croeso nol i’r wythwr profiadol Taulupe Faletau, sydd yn arwain Cymru dydd Sul: https://t.co/9Z0uPrdlFx #WALvITA pic.twitter.com/oZc2uOnSEv
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 7, 2018
Wales assistant Rob Howley is frustrated by the criticism, agreeing with O’Shea’s assessment that they are simply using the depth of their squad.
“We have picked players we feel deserve that opportunity, as well as players who have been injured,” he said.
“If you look at the word disrespectful, Taulupe Faletau, George North and Justin Tipuric are coming in as [British and Irish] Lions. 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.”
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta