WALES CAPTAIN SAM Warburton will miss his side’s Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday due to a knee injury.
The 23-year-old will miss his second game of this year’s competition with prop Gethkin Jenkins to take the captain’s armband at the Millennium Stadium.
Justin Tipuric, 22, will make his first Wales start in the back-row alongside Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau. Wales coach Warren Gatland, who had to do without Warburton against Scotland, decided to take the cautious approach with a potential title decider against France to come in a fortnight.
Gatland made one other change, recalling hooker Matthew Rees for Ken Owens. His return means Wales can field the 2009 British and Irish Lions Test front-row of Jenkins, Rees and Adam Jones.
“Due to injuries to all three players at one time or another, we have not been able to field this 2009 Lions front-row too often,” Gatland said. ”We are back at the Millennium Stadium in front of our home fans, and we need to refocus sharply after our Triple Crown triumph at Twickenham (against England) if we are to give ourselves the best chance of being in contention for the championship going into that final weekend against France.”
Wales team: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-Alex Cuthbert, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-George North, 10-Rhys Priestland, 9-Mike Phillips, 8-Toby Faletau, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6-Dan Lydiate, 5-Ian Evans, 4-Alun Wyn Jones, 3-Adam Jones, 2-Matthew Rees, 1-Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16-Ken Owens, 17-Paul James, 18-Luke Charteris, 19-Ryan Jones, 20-Lloyd Williams, 21-James Hook, 22-Scott Williams