Alix Popham has been backed to restart his international career after his outstanding Anglo-Welsh Cup display for Llanelli against Bath.
Popham produced an international-class performance as the Scarlets booked a Cup final appointment with English champions Wasps at Twickenham by sinking Bath 27-26 on Saturday.
That he chose Welsh rugby's Millennium Stadium home to deliver a display not seen by a Llanelli number eight since Scott Quinnell reigned supreme means Wales caretaker coach Scott Johnson could hand the 26-year-old a first RBS 6 Nations start.
Popham, a Cup winner with Leeds last season, has collected 13 caps, but almost half of those appearances came off the replacements' bench, while his RBS 6 Nations experience this term amounts to just nine minutes against England.
"I wanted a big game on the best stage to do it, and I enjoyed it," said Popham.
"I just concentrate on playing well for Llanelli, and whatever else happens is a bonus.
"Yes, I have been massively frustrated, but I've just got to bite my lip and carry on training. I love being in camp (with Wales) and the boys are great but it's just hard when you are not involved."
Llanelli captain Simon Easterby and rugby director Gareth Jenkins both believe Popham has made an overpowering case to start against Italy.
"Everyone involved with Llanelli is surprised he has not been picked for Wales," said Ireland flanker Easterby.
"He has proved a huge acquisition for us since he joined from Leeds, and I would expect him to start against Italy."
Jenkins added: "Alix has demonstrated he is a serious international contender for Wales.
"He has been putting in big performances all year, and he can't be ignored for (Wales) selection, even for next week as far as I am concerned, after his performance against Bath."
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.