Kieran Hardy: Wales scrum-half ruled out of Six Nations

Kieran Hardy holds his injured hatrin i he atch agaist England
Kieran Hardy scored a try for Wales before having to leave the field against England
Six Nations 2021: Italy v Wales
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 13 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, S4C

Wales scrum-half Kieran Hardy has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations after damaging a hamstring in the Triple Crown win against England.

Hardy scored a try before limping off at the Principality Stadium in the second half of the 40-24 victory.

Wales are confident Cardiff Blues' Tomos Williams will be fit again after suffering a hamstring injury in the opening victory against Ireland.

Wales hope fly-half Dan Biggar will be fit to face Italy on 13 March.

The Northampton half-back limped off against England and was replaced by Callum Sheedy who produced an impressive 13-point performance. Wales will find out next week if Biggar will be available.

At scrum-half, Wales should have three selection options in Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams and Lloyd Williams with nobody called up to replace Hardy.

His Scarlets' team-mate Davies came on as a replacement against England, while Lloyd Williams was called into the squad as cover for namesake Tomos, ahead of Rhys Webb.

"It's unfortunate for Kieran after a wonderful performance against England. He's worked particularly hard to improve aspects of his game, he's a very fit guy and we thought his performance was excellent, so it's unfortunate he's not in a position to back that up," Wales attack coach Stephen Jones told BBC Sport Wales.

"Where that leaves us is simple, we've got three scrum-halves left in the squad who are good to go. Tomos Williams is taking part in training so that's great for us."

"Biggs (Biggar) has got an injury he's nursing but we're very optimistic for next week (against Italy). We'll find out on Monday but we're pretty optimistic."

Jarrod Evans is the other fly-half in the squad if Biggar is unfit or rested for the trip to Rome.

Meanwhile Ospreys coach Toby Booth says the experienced Webb, who has slipped down the pecking order, is in "exceptional" form since his omission.

"All Webby can do for us is keep playing well, in the games for us in the last few weeks he's played exceptionally well.

"A week is a long time in politics, it's even longer in rugby so we'll wait and see," said Booth.

Wales clinched the Triple Crown with victory over England and can win the Grand Slam by defeating Italy in Rome and France in Paris on 20 March.

Jones denies there will be any complacency in Rome despite the Italians' poor form, and Welsh supporters already anticipating a Grand Slam shot.

"One, we respect Italy, their players and coaches, and two, from our perspective we've got a lot to improve on with our attacking game," said the former Wales fly-half.

"We've got to be more efficient and move the ball better, there are a lot of things I need to improve."

A Six Nations table showing: Wales P 3, W 3, PD 22, B 2, Pts 14; France P 2, W 2, PD 42, B 1, Pts 9; Ireland P 3, W 1, PD 31, B 3, Pts 7; England P 3, W 1, PD 2, B 2, Pts 6; Scotland P 2, W 1, PD 4, B 1, Pts 5, Italy P 3, W 0, PD -101, B 0, Pts 0
Wales lead the Six Nations standings from France, whose game at home to Scotland was postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak in their camp

Dragons back rower Aaron Wainwright and Ospreys centre Owen Watkin have been released by Wales to play for the regional sides in the Pro14 derby on Saturday evening.

Italy recall utility back Edoardo Padovani, fit-again scrum-half Marcelo Viola and prop Daniele Rimpelli to their squad, while scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani and prop Cherif Traore drop out after replacement appearances in Ireland.

Welsh-born scrum-half Stephen Varney, a late withdrawal in Dublin, is named in a 32-man training party.

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