No Wales recall for Warburton
Wales captain Sam Warburton will have to wait for a recall after interim coach Rob Howley said Tuesday he would name an unchanged starting XV.
Wales captain Sam Warburton will have to wait for a recall after interim coach Rob Howley said Tuesday he would name an unchanged starting XV for the champions' Six Nations clash away to Italy next week.
Cardiff flank Warburton missed last Saturday's 16-6 victory over France - a win that ended a run of eight straight Wales defeats - after suffering a shoulder injury in the first round loss to Ireland.
Ospreys flank Ryan Jones took over the captaincy in Paris with Justin Tipuric filling Warburton's openside flank berth.
And their performances means Warburton won't be rushed back into the starting side, even if he recovers fully from his 'stinger' injury.
"I have told the players the same XV will start in Italy," Howley said.
"I think it is pretty important from a coach's perspective that we reward the players who have gone out on the field," the former Wales scrumhalf added.
"I thought Ryan Jones was outstanding in terms of his leadership and it is a just reward that he captains the side against Italy."
Warburton, who has struggled of late to find the form he demonstrated during Wales' run to the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup, could be on the bench.
"Sam is better, he is still feeling the stinger to some extent but I wanted clarity," Howley explained.
"In terms of preparation, the team comes first. What I don't want is to wait on medical opinions, and the way the team went on the weekend they deserve to start again.
"It is a reward for the performance. We have talked about the determination, the attitude and resilience, and that is what you reward a side for when they come up with a win in France, which is not easy to get on any occasion."
Howley has also called lock Alun Wyn Jones into his squad, with the Ospreys second row sidelined since suffering a shoulder injury in Wales's defeat by Argentina in November.
"On the back of the performance [against France] at the weekend, we have decided to reward the players who took to the field and the same XV who started in Paris will start against Italy," said Howley.
"Obviously we are mindful that the XV selected is dependent on injuries, with some players playing before next week, but if everyone comes through it will be the same XV.
The full 23-man squad which will face Italy will be announced next Tuesday, February 19.