Wales wing Shane Williams is desperate for caretaker coach Scott Johnson to stay in the post rather than become assistant with Australia.

Johnson is expected to decide his long-term future within a fortnight after having talks with new Australia coach John Connolly last week.

But the Welsh players hope the Australian, who took over from Mike Ruddock last month, remains as coach.

"We don't want to see him go," the 35-times capped Williams said. "He has got personal reasons and we are going to have to respect that.

"I personally want him to stay. Among others he has been at the heart of Wales's success and he's brought so much to the team - I have learned so much from him.

"He has an all-round knowledge of the game. He can tell you anything about rugby, not only now but about something that happened about 100 years ago.

"He is so knowledgeable and his intelligence makes the game a lot easier for the players. I certainly haven't worked with anyone like him before."

If Johnson does go back to Australia to be Connolly's assistant, it will be based on family reasons and he wants his Wales players to try to put the uncertainty to the back of their minds.

Williams said: "Scott has told us to worry about the rugby and our own games, and Scott is going to have to make the decision he needs to make."

Williams is raring to play after missing the 31-5 hammering against Ireland two weekends ago - the first match since Ruddock resigned. The Lions wing has recovered from a dead leg suffered against Scotland and proved his fitness plauying for the Ospreys last Friday.

He said: "It is frustrating missing games at such an important time for Welsh rugby. I wanted to play in Ireland, even though the result didn't go our way, and it is hard to take."

Williams is set for a recall against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday especially as fellow wing Mark Jones is only rated 50-50 by the Wales medical team. Jones is suffering from bruised ribs suffered in the Scarlets' 27-26 Powergen Cup semi-final win against Bath.

Also expected to be in Johnson's 22 is Jones' club-mate No 8 Alix Popham who was outstanding against Bath.

Italy have lost arguably their best player for the match against Wales after Mauro Bergamasco, the flanker, withdrew injured with a thigh problem playing for Stade Francais at the weekend. Head coach Pierre Berbizier has called Aaron Persico into the squad as a replacement.