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Faletau to lead Wales

Friday, March 09, 2018

CARDIFF - Taulupe Faletau will lead a much-changed Wales team for the first time as he was named captain upon his return to the starting line-up for Sunday's Six Nations clash against Italy.

It is the first appearance of the championship for the eigthman, who forms part of a new-look pack that shows seven changes from the side that lost 37-27 to Ireland in Dublin on Feb. 24.

It includes a first cap at openside flank for Scarlets' James Davies.

Coach Warren Gatland has made 10 changes in all to his side, announced on Wednesday, with Gareth Anscombe coming in at flyhalf to replace Dan Biggar and Owen Watkin making his first Six Nations start as partner at centre to Hadleigh Parkes.

George North returns to the starting team which means Liam Williams moves to fullback in place of Leigh Halfpenny.

"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," coach Gatland said in a press statement.

Wales, who have lost their last two games away in England and Ireland, take on an Italian team who have conceded an average of 45 points in each of their three defeats in this year's Six Nations.

Wales have lost just twice to Italy in 25 previous meetings but never at home.

Team: 15-Liam Williams, 14-George North, 13-Owen Watkin, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Steff Evans, 10-Gareth Anscombe, 9-Gareth Davies, 8-Taulupe Faletau (captain), 7-James Davies, 6-Justin Tipuric, 5-Bradley Davies, 4-Cory Hill, 3-Tomas Francis, 2-Elliot Dee, 1-Nicky Smith

Replacements: 16-Ken Owens, 17-Rob Evans, 18-Samson Lee, 19-Seb Davies, 20-Ellis Jenkins, 21-Aled Davies, 22-Rhys Patchell, 23-Leigh Halfpenny.

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