ATTACK coach Rob Howley says that Wales’ decision to field a third fly-half of the Six Nations is a sign of their strength in depth rather than a problem.

Gareth Anscombe gets the nod to face Italy in Cardiff tomorrow after Rhys Patchell started against Scotland and England then Dan Biggar was recalled for the loss in Ireland.

Head coach Warren Gatland admitted this week that he wonders whether the right call was made to bring back the Ospreys and Lions number 10.

The injured Rhys Priestland and Owen Williams, the Gloucester fly-half/centre who is a Dragons target, are other options and Howley believes Wales are blessed.

“If you look at our back row we have strength in depth and it’s the same at number 10,” said the former scrum-half.

“Rhys performed against Scotland, Gareth has come off the bench and now he is starting. He started against Japan in the autumn (of 2016), this is the next opportunity that he has got and I am sure he will take it with both hands.

“He is an outside-half who likes to play and his passing is excellent. I believe the outside half position is a strength and depth position rather than a problem.”

Biggar had a tough game in Dublin and drops out of the matchday 23 this weekend, but Howley says the Northampton-bound player remains in their thoughts for France a week on Saturday.

“I don’t read anything into it,” said Howley. “Warren Gatland said last week about Rhys Patchell getting back on the horse.

“We released Rhys last week to play (for the Scarlets) but the game was called off because of the weather so this is an opportunity for Rhys to come off the bench.

“Rhys had that experience against Scotland and we sat down with him afterwards and he understands how different it is against a Tier One country like England which plays with a dominant line-speed.

“I am sure he has learned from that experience.”

Cardiff Blues playmaker Anscombe has looked classy when calling the shots late on but must now control from the off and bring the best out of a XV bursting with attacking talent.

“Gareth Anscombe has come off the bench a couple of times and done well,” said Howley.

“The challenge for Gareth is putting a game-plan together from the start of a game. It’s a totally different feel.

“He has to try and create time and space for himself and the team and play in the right areas.

“He has come on against England and Ireland when we have been chasing the game and it’s been high-risk, high-reward.

“All of a sudden he is starting and it’s important we play in the right areas especially against Italy who have got a lot of line-speed.”

Gatland has made 10 changes to his XV that faced Ireland but Howley denies that is a sign of disrespecting their visitors.

He said: “If you look at the word disrespectful...I think Toby Faletau coming in as a Lion, Justin Tipuric as a Lion, George North as a Lion. There’s a fair amount of experience in that team as well.

“We back ourselves, we’re looking forward to playing in the Principality Stadium again with players who deserve their opportunity. Elliot Dee has come off the bench a couple of times and deserves to start.

“We probably have 14 or 15 games before the World Cup and we’ve spoken about the strength in depth we’ve hopefully created.

“This is an opportunity to see if that strength in depth can stack up. We believe it can and that’s why we’ve selected that team.”