Wales

Warburton benched for Azzurri clash

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 11:42
Alun-wyn-jones-charges Alun-wyn-jones-with-trophy
We've almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare
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Lock Alun Wyn Jones will captain Wales in their first Six Nations clash against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday, with Sam Warburton starting on the bench.

Jones, who last captained Wales against the Azzurri in 2009, is part of a side who have all tasted Six Nations success in recent years.

The Ospreys skipper will line-up alongside Perpignan's Luke Charteris as Wales look to create history by becoming the first side to win the tournament outright three times in succession.

In the front row Bath prop Paul James will win his 49th Wales cap alongside Richard Hibbard at hooker and tighthead Adam Jones, who will be taking to the field for his 90th Welsh cap.

Dan Lydiate, player of the tournament in 2012, lines up alongside Ospreys flank Justin Tipuric and Newport Gwent Dragons No.8 Toby Faletau in an all British and Irish Lions loose trio.

Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestlandwho started all of Wales' 2012 Grand Slam fixtures, partner at halfback.

Jamie Roberts lines up alongside Scott Williams in midfield with Lions trio Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North making up the back three.

"We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off," said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"Italy started last year's tournament with a win over France so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum.

"It's a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection which is a great position to be in as a coach.

"We've almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare.

"Alun-Wyn will lead the side with Sam starting on the bench and he has come through training well," added Gatland.

Scarlets front row duo Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones are named on the bench alongside Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington.  

Squad captain Warburton and Newport Gwent Dragons skipper Andrew Coombs complete the forward replacements.  Ospreys scrumhalf Rhys Webb is named in a Six Nations match squad for the first time and he is joined by James Hook and Liam Williams.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams.

Date: Saturday, February 1
Venue: Millenium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

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