Wales make 10 changes for Italy as Taulupe Faletau is named captain on injury return

James Davies, younger brother of Lions centre Jonathan, will make his debut

Jack Austin
Wednesday 07 March 2018 12:16
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Faletau has not played for Wales since November
Faletau has not played for Wales since November

Warren Gatland has given his Wales side a complete makeover with 10 changes to the side who lost to Ireland last time out as he looks to rescue his side’s Six Nations campaign against Italy.

There is no place for captain Alun Wyn Jones in the entire squad as Bradley Davies partners Cory Hill in the second row, while returning Taulupe Faletau is named skipper.

Scarlets’ flanker James Davies, who is the younger brother of injured centre Jonathan Davies, will make his debut in place of the impressive Josh Navidi, with Justin Tipuric completing a new-look back row for the Welsh.

In the backs, George North returns to the starting XV, with Leigh Halfpenny dropping to the bench and Liam Williams moving to full back, but there is no place for first-choice fly-half Dan Biggar.

Biggar returned from injury against Ireland but was replaced before the end by Gareth Anscombe, who starts in his stead on Sunday. Rhys Patchell, who started the first two games, is on the bench.

“It is a great opportunity for Taulupe, he is a world class player, hugely experienced and this will be great for his development and we are looking forward to seeing those leadership qualities come through,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“We have made some changes, but we are bringing in a lot of quality and a lot of experience with the likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, George North and Taulupe.

“Add into that James Davies who gets his first cap, Elliot Dee who gets his first start - this is a great opportunity for them to play tournament rugby.

“It is challenging making changes, but we have picked a really exciting team and Sunday is their chance.”

Wales team to face Italy: L Williams, North, Watkin, Parkes, S Evans; Anscombe, G Davies; Smith, Dee, Francis, Hill, B Davies, Tipuric, J Davies, Faletau (capt).

Replacements: Owens, R Evans, Lee, S Davies, Jenkins, A Davies, Patchell, Halfpenny.

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