WALES will be without Liam Williams for their Six Nations opener against Italy but the Lions full-back will be in contention for the tough trip to Dublin.

The 28-year-old, who is returning to the Scarlets from Saracens, has not played since he injured his ankle in the build-up to the World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

Sarries boss Mark McCall previously said that he expected Williams to be available for the tournament opener against the Azzurri at Principality Stadium next Saturday but that clash has come too soon.

Instead he will target the encounter with Ireland, who open up at home to Scotland, at the Aviva Stadium.

Western Telegraph:

"Liam is on for round two of the competition, he won't make the first game," said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac at the Six Nations launch. "But he's on track for Ireland in round two."

That leaves Leigh Halfpenny likely to wear 15 against Italy, although his impressive form for the Scarlets could have earned that honour anyway.

Pivac has plenty of options for the wing spots with teenage ace Louis Rees-Zammit fit to battle with George North, Josh Adams, Johnny McNicholl, Owen Lane and Jonah Holmes.

The 18-year-old limped off after injuring his ankle in Gloucester's European Champions Cup defeat to Toulouse on Sunday.

Rees-Zammit will return to the Cherry and Whites, who face Bristol in the Premiership this weekend, but is set to be in contention to make his Test debut against the Italians.

Western Telegraph:

"Louis has worked well with the medical team and he will be back training this morning, doing some running with the boys," said Pivac.

"He will go back to his club this weekend and we will get him back next week."

Ospreys centre Owen Watkin is also making good progress in his comeback bid from a knee injury.

"He’ll hopefully take part in full training next week. He’s improving," said Pivac.

“He did some straight line running [on Tuesday], so hopefully he’ll be up and running next week. Possibly available for round one but more than likely round two.”

Hadleigh Parkes is set to start in midfield with new boys Nick Tompkins in pole position to partner him, although North or Adams could be moved in from the wing.