It may be Wales v Italy in one of the northern hemisphere's rugby showpiece occasions, but there is a private southern hemisphere battle to be won between the respective coaches. At stake for new Wales boss Steve Hansen is credibility, while for the long suffering Italian coach Brad Johnstone a 12th successive Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship defeat could be the end of the line.
Hansen at least got off to a decent start after being thrust into the hot seat following fellow Kiwi Graham Henry's premature departure. After the terrible defeat in Dublin, pride at least was restored in the near miss at home against the French. Twice in the closing minutes Wales crossed the French line for what the whole Welsh nation hoped would be the winning try, but each time the Irish referee Dave McHugh 'went upstairs' to his Italian video analyst and Scott Quinnell and Dafydd James were both denied a slice of glory.
As for the Italians, they crumbled in the second half of their home game against the Scots and fell to a defeat that led many to call for Johnstone to stand down. The former All Blacks prop didn't see it that way and his reaction since then has been to make eight changes for a must-win game in Cardiff.
You have to go back to their emotive first outing in the Lloyds TSB Six Nations against Scotland two years ago for the last time Johnstone's men brought home the bacon. The coach pin-pointed the games against Scotland in Rome and Wales in Cardiff as matches to win.
After the failure at Stadio Flaminio, the Azzurri's Millennium Stadium assignment becomes critical for their future. It will be the ninth time they have lined-up against Wales and they are still seeking their first win.
What is more, they will arrive without Diego Dominguez in their ranks and stripped of Paulo Vaccari and Denis Dallan behind the scrum.
Everything points to a Welsh win, but that won't happen unless Quinnell and co can take on the powerful Italian forwards and move them around the field. Look out for some typical charges from the Welsh skipper, although Quinnell's Welsh record nine tries for a forward looks a bit weak when compared to Italina No 8 Carlo Checchinato's world record 19 for a forward in 73 Tests.
WALES: Kevin Morgan (Swansea); Dafydd James (Bridgend), Tom Shanklin (Saracens), Andy Marinos (Newport Rugby), Craig Morgan (Cardiff); Stephen Jones (Llanelli), Robert Howley (Cardiff); Iestyn Thomas (Ebbw Vale), Robin McBryde (Llanelli), Chris Anthony (Newport Rugby), Ian Gough (Newport Rugby), Andy Moore (Swansea), Nathan Budgett (Bridgend), Martyn Williams (Cardiff), Scott Quinnell (Llanelli, captain)
Replacements: Barry Williams (Neath), Spencer John (Cardiff), Chris Wyatt (Llanelli), Brett Sinkinson (Neath), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli), Iestyn Harris (Cardiff), Rhys Williams (Cardiff).
ITALY: Gert Peens (Piacenza); Roberto Pedrazzi (Viadana), Mirco Bergamasco (Padova), Cristian Stoica (Castres), Nicola Mazzucato (Benetton Treviso); Ramiro Pez (Rotherham), Alessandro Troncon (Monteferrand); Giampiero De Carli (Calvisano), Alessandro Moscardi (Benetton Treviso, captain), Salvatore Perugini (L'Aquila), Mark Giacheri (Sale Sharks), Marco Bortolami (Padova), Aaron Persico (Viadana), Mauro Bergamasco (Benetton Treviso), Carlo Checchinato (Benetton Treviso).
Replacements: Federico Pucciarello (Gloucester), Andrea Lo Cicero (Toulouse), Andrea Benatti (Viadana), Matthew Phillips (Viadana), Matteo Mazzantini (Benetton Treviso), Francesco Mazzariol (Benetton Treviso), Giovanni Raineri (Roma)
WALES v ITALY - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday, 2 March
Kick-off: 2.00pm local time
TV: Live on BBC Grandstand and RAI3
Referee: Chris White (England)
Touch judges: Rob Dickson (Scotland), Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Wales 7s captain Luke Treharne may have only played once on the World Series, but he has full confidence in his side as they prepare for the opening two rounds of this year's series in Dubai and South Africa, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
Wales 7s Manager Steff Thomas believes Luke Treharne has all the attriubutes to be a top class captain. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie hears his reasons why as the squad prepare for the opening two legs of the new World Series in Dubai and South Africa.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.