Wales to assess Biggar as Howley dodges Davies quandary

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Rob Howley was giving little away when asked whether Sam Davies would start in place of Dan Biggar at 10 when Wales host England in the Six Nations next weekend.

The interim head coach attracted criticism from some quarters over his selection for Sunday's opener against Italy in Rome, which Wales won 33-7 after overcoming an uncertain start.

Howley's detractors felt the XV had been picked on reputation rather than form, with Biggar given the nod at fly-half instead of Davies.

Biggar was forced out of the action at half-time with a rib injury, and Davies impressed as his replacement as Wales scored 30 unanswered points in the second period.

"Dan has taken a bump to his ribs but we'll wait for more info on that," Howley said in his media conference.

"I thought he [Davies] played well when he came on. He did what we thought he could do. He's created opportunities and space, and showed composure.

"We're fortunate, along with Owen Williams, to have three 10s putting pressure on each other. Hopefully Dan will be available for England.

"I think he [Davies] showed in [November] that he's ready to start. We came here with a selection plan in terms of experience. Sam has shown lovely touches, he's got a unique left foot and that aids him.

"We'll have to wait and see how Dan comes through. Sam has come on and done well that puts pressure on us as coaches."

Howley's opposite number Conor O'Shea, meanwhile, saw enough from his side at the Stadio Olimpico to suggest they can improve on last year's campaign, which saw them lose all five matches under Jacques Brunel.

"People will say 'it was the same old Italy' - challenge for 50 minutes and then lose the legs but I feel we got on the wrong end of the referee," O'Shea said, in quotes reported by BBC Sport.

"I thought defensively we were brilliant. We have to go away and look at ourselves as we didn't execute well but had plenty of opportunity to take something from that game.

"I think it will take time to change perceptions but we are at the outset of something here. We have to refocus very quickly and be realistic about where we are.

"We have shown a lot there in that first half. We have a long way to go, we know. But the players play with heart and we will be fine."