Josh Adams Wales

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 15: Josh Adams of Wales reacts as he catches a ball during the Wales Captain's Run, prior to the Guinness Six Nations Round Five match between Wales and Italy, at Principality Stadium on March 15, 2024 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

Something Stirs For Josh Adams . . . But It’s Not Made Of Silver Or Gold

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By Paul Jones

Josh Adams is used to silverware not stirring utensils, but times have changed from his carefree entry into Test rugby six years ago.

The Wales wing won a Grand Slam in 2019, another Six Nations title in 2021, was a Lions tourist that same year, and finished the top tryscorer at the 2019 World Cup.

But those achievements already feel a long time ago for Adams, even though he is still only 28 years old.

Now, Adams says that Wales must not “shy away” from what awaits them in the pressure-filled cauldron of a wooden spoon decider against Italy.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has played host to those Six Nations title successes and witnessed Grand Slam glory, but the contrast this weekend could hardly be greater.

There is no silverware at stake, just the Guinness Six Nations’ mythical “prize” for finishing bottom of the table. And this season it is a straight shoot-out between Wales and Italy.

Wales, currently four points adrift of their fifth-placed opponents, must win to have any chance of avoiding a first wooden spoon since 2003.

Even victory might not be enough if bonus points come into play, and Wales wing Adams accepts that the heat is on.

“It is a bit of a different pressure,” he said.

“Pressure when you are in a game to win something, it feels a little bit different. There is something at the end of it, whereas this is a situation where we can’t afford to lose.

“We have to have the mindset that international rugby is all about winning, and we haven’t been able to do that yet. We are desperate to win.

“I have been in a relegation battle in the Premiership with Worcester. We lost our first seven games of the season and we were miles adrift at the bottom.

“It came down to a game against London Irish, where it was pretty much whoever won would stay up. This is similar in a way.

“You have to embrace it and not shy away from it. We can’t go in our shells and cover up.
“We have had the mentality of ‘let’s take this head-on, let’s be at our best this weekend and let’s finish with what we feel we deserve, which is a good victory’.

“Sometimes you learn best from your losses, but there are only learnings if you show improvements the following week, otherwise there is no point.

“I won my first Test at home against Scotland, then lost away against England and I didn’t lose for nine Tests after that. I was in a team that didn’t know how to lose.

“That is the sort of journey we are going to have to get to where it becomes second-nature where we understand how to close games out, how to squeeze opposition better and see tough Test matches out.

“International rugby is a cut-throat business, and you need to perform at your best every week if you want to win.”

Wales’ last Six Nations victory was against Italy in Rome 12 months ago, while the Azzuri triumphed 22-21 on their most recent Cardiff visit in 2022 when try-scorer Adams was named player of the match and promptly gave his medal to visiting full-back Ange Capuozzo.

That match was Alun Wyn Jones 150th Wales cap and Dan Biggar’s 100th, while this time around the game is George North’s farewell appearance before retiring from Test rugby.

“I would like to think we can send off George with a win and not have a repeat of the result when Dan and Al reached their incredible milestones,” Adams added.

“It is important we do something for George. He has had so many memorable moments for Wales, and his contribution to Welsh rugby has been incredible.

“There are no real words to sum him up. I would just like to say ‘thank you’ for the way he has helped me.”

Read more about Josh Adams

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