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Stephen Jones: 'Wales still have scrum-half options'

Kieran Hardy will miss the rest of the campaign through injury.

Stephen Jones says that Wales have three scrum-halves "good to go" after losing Kieran Hardy for the rest of this season's Guinness Six Nations.

Scarlets number nine Hardy, who scored a try during the Triple Crown-clinching 40-24 victory over England last Saturday, suffered a hamstring injury later in that match.

He will miss Wales' forthcoming appointments with Italy and France, and he has been released from the Six Nations squad.

Wales v England – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium
Kieran Hardy (right) in action against England (David Davies/PA)

Hardy's fellow scrum-half Tomos Williams was laid low by a hamstring injury suffered during the opening Six Nations clash against Ireland last month and has not played since.

He looks like being back in contention, though, for a trip to Rome on March 13, while Wales head coach Wayne Pivac also has Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams as scrum-half options.

"Where that leaves us with scrum-halves is simple – we have got three left in the squad who are good to go," Wales assistant coach Jones said.

"He (Tomos Williams) is ticking boxes and taking part in training, which is great.

"Kieran has worked particularly hard at his game. We thought his performance was excellent on the weekend, and it is unfortunate for him that he's not in a position to be able to back that up."

Unbeaten Wales are five points clear as Six Nations leaders, and victories in their final two games will secure the title and a Grand Slam.

They have defeated Italy 15 times in succession with an average scoreline of 35-12, while the Azzurri have suffered 30 Six Nations losses on the bounce against all opponents.

Wales can also reflect on the three wins against France from their last four Six Nations trips to Paris.

Wales are in control of their Six Nations destiny, chasing a sixth title and fifth Grand Slam, and momentum they have established could make them difficult to stop.

Jones added: "We are delighted with the victory (against England) and to win the Triple Crown. It was huge for us as a group.

"But we won't get too carried away because there is another Test match around the corner and we've got lots of things to work on.

"It's great that we've won our first three games, but we have a big challenge in Rome. We have to overcome that first.

"Then we can go to Paris alive in the last round, which is what we want. It's great to be where we are, but we understand there is a lot of work to be done.

"We've got excellent leaders from a playing perspective – Alun Wyn (Jones), Ken (Owens), Tips (Justin Tipuric) – and many others who have experienced success.

"They fully understand the process. You can't take your eye off the ball. You have to keep on working hard, and it is a next game mentality.

"We respect Italy, we respect the players they have, the coaching group they have.

"They are a very physical outfit, and also from my own perspective, we have got a lot to improve on in our attacking game.

"We have got to make sure we are more efficient. It's very simple. We have got to get our own house in order.

"It (Italy game) is a big hurdle for us, and all our energy goes into that. We don't look any further than our next game."

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Wales' Kieran Hardy runs through to score their first try in the Autumn Nations Cup on December 5, 2020
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