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Welsh Jersey Boys upbeat for Italy clash

Kieran Hardy, Will Rowlands and Callum Sheedy all played for Jersey before reaching the Test stage with Wales

Welsh Jersey Boys upbeat for Italy clash

Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy and Will Rowlands are the Jersey Boys looking to help Wales dance to a decent tune in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Italy in Llanelli.

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Half-backs Hardy and Sheedy played together for the island club on loan while giant lock Rowlands has also had a spell with the Reds.

Hardy and Sheedy became best mates living and playing together in Jersey and make only their second Test stats against the Azzurri.

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Bristol playmaker Sheedy said: “I used to have good battles with Kieran at Under-11’s right up to Under-16’s when I was with Cardiff and he was with Llanelli. We played Wales Under-16’s together.

“We became good mates and did four months out in Jersey together. To be called up into the Wales squad was together unbelievable. We both started against Georgia and now we’ve got another opportunity on Saturday.

“It’s special. We both know each other really well on and off the pitch.

“Jersey is a very small island and everyone knows everyone. Kieran helped me a lot there and we got to know each other very well.”

Scarlets scrum-half Hardy said: “I’ve had loads of message from people in Jersey in the last couple of weeks. When we can we hope to go there and catch up with everyone.

“Saturday is a huge opportunity as the youngest of the scrum-halves. I want to be here for a long time and my main aim is to play in the 2023 World Cup.”

Wasps second row Rowlands said: “I had a funny conversation with the half-backs about Jersey. I had three months there and it put me in good stead. I imagine it has done the same for them.

“My reason for going was to play regularly and I came back a better player.”

Kieran Hardy and Callum Sheedy during training

I used to have good battles with Kieran at Under-11’s right up to Under-16’s when I was with Cardiff and he was with Llanelli. We played Wales Under-16’s together

Wales will want to beat Italy to end 2020 on a high.

Pivac’s trio of Jersey products are three of nine changes and Sheedy is confident an upturn in Welsh form is just around the corner.

“We have our own identity here which is really exciting. We’re not a million miles away from it clicking,” he said.

“It’s been a great seven weeks in camp. I definitely think I’ve improved and I’ll leave on Sunday a much better player and more mature person.”

Hardy and Sheedy started together at scrum-half and fly-half respectively in the 18-0 win over Georgia earlier in the Autumn Nations Cup and do so again this weekend.

“In the first couple of weeks it was about getting up to the intensity and transition in training. The sessions were shorter and there was less time to think between drills,” Hardy said.

“Italy have had a couple of results go against them. They are a physical team and will feel they have nothing to lose. We have to make sure we are right.

“It was tough conditions against Georgia and it was about being neat and tidy and doing everything right for the team on the day. I will not try to do anything different.

“Every team wants to play with speed of ball and it is a big part of our game. The kicking game is big in international rugby and it’s inevitable we will have to kick at times.

“We feel we have not fired many bullets in attack yet and it would be a good opportunity to do that.”

Kieran Hardy

Kieran Hardy played more than 50 games for Jersey (Pic: Jersey Reds)

Saturday is a huge opportunity as the youngest of the scrum-halves. I want to be here for a long time and my main aim is to play in the 2023 World Cup

Rowlands said: “I’m excited to start the final match of the series. It’s a big opportunity to put in a good performance against a tough Italian team.

“They have put in some good performances in this autumn and they are tough to beat. We are excited by the opportunity to deliver a performance we know we can.

“We want to finish on a very positive note. We need to look at a few things so we can lay a foundation at the set-piece.

“We have not gone through the phases in attack and tested teams and we are targeting that this weekend. It always starts up front.

“It has been very frustrating so far because we have not performed as we’ve wanted to or played the rugby we aim to.

“It’s been frustrating on a team level and everyone has felt that very keenly.

“The game we want to play is expansive and attractive. This weekend is about getting the win and being satisfied we have taken another step forward.”

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