The former Wales captain Sam Warburton will start at blindside flanker in Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Italy in Rome. Justin Tipuric retains the No7 shirt for their side’s opener at the Stadio Olimpico, with Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty completing the back row and Scarlets’ lock Jake Ball chosen as the new skipper Alun Wyn Jones’s second-row partner.

Elsewhere scrum-half Rhys Webb is recalled after missing most of Wales’ autumn Test series this season through injury, with Scarlets pair Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies teaming up in midfield and 86 times-capped Jamie Roberts named on the bench.

Interim head coach Rob Howley’s team also includes the Ospreys loosehead prop Nicky Smith, who takes over from Gethin Jenkins who is injured, but the uncapped flankers Thomas Young and Olly Cracknell have missed out making the match-day 23.

Bath forwards Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris both miss the match due to injury.

L Halfpenny (Toulon); G North (Northampton), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), L Williams (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); N Smith (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), S Lee (Scarlets), J Ball (Scarlets), AW Jones (Ospreys, capt), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Evans (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), C Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), J King (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), S Davies (Ospreys), J Roberts (Harlequins).


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