Six Nations: Rhys Priestland earns Neil Jenkins backing

Rhys Priestland has won 13 caps since his debut in 2011
Rhys Priestland has won 13 caps since his debut in 2011

Wales expect Rhys Priestland to be back to his best against Italy on 10 March after an inconsistent display in the Triple Crown-sealing win over England.

Despite Wales sealing the Triple Crown with a 19-12 victory the Scarlets fly-half did not have his best game.

But Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins backs Priestland to bounce back.

"It will be a learning curve for him again and I think you'll see him hopefully back to his best against Italy," insisted Jenkins.

"He's quite new to the Test arena. It's more or less a year he has been involved."

Priestland, who has lost the Wales place-kickking duties to Leigh Halfpenny for the last two games, had a difficult afternoon against England.

He missed two penalty kicks to touch and was sin-binned in the second-half for going offside in the shadow of Wales' posts after having a clearance kick charged down.

At one point it appeared that fellow Scarlet Stephen Jones was going to replace him, but coach Warren Gatland kept faith with the 25-year-old.

Priestland was the surprise package during Wales' 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign, leap-frogging Jones and James Hook to be the number one fly-half.

But Jenkins admitted Priestland's performance against the English was not up to its usual standard.

"We have had a chat with Rhys. I think the last quarter of an hour he's come through. He has dug in there.

"It hasn't gone his way on the day - we've all been there," added Jenkins.

"The pleasing thing from Rhys' point of view and our point of view was that he kept going.

"I thought the last quarter of an hour he was excellent, kept us going forward and I think that was decisive in us winning the game towards the end.

"There were a couple of issues early on where maybe he ran [and] could have kicked when he decided to run."

Hook, who missed the trip to Twickenham because of chicken pox, has now recovered and will be in line for selection against Italy.

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