Faletau to captain Wales for the first time against Italy

Fuofua Tonga ke a'u 'o kapiteni i he timi 'Akapulu 'Iunioni 'a Uēlesi

This article appeared on Raidió Teilifís Éireann website

Taulupe Faletau will captain Wales and Scarlets flanker James Davies makes his Test debut in Sunday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash against Italy in Cardiff.

Davies, younger brother of Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan, is – as expected – among 10 changes made by head coach Warren Gatland following a 37-27 defeat against Ireland 11 days ago.

And fit-again Bath number eight Faletau skippers a team that also sees wing George North, centre Owen Watkin, fly-half Gareth Anscombe and hooker Elliot Dee handed starts.

“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,” said head coach Warren Gatland.

“We have made some changes, but we are bringing in a lot of quality and a lot of experience with the likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, George North and Taulupe.

“Add into that James Davies who gets his first cap, Elliot Dee who gets his first start – this is a great opportunity for them to play tournament rugby.

“It is challenging making changes, but we have picked a really exciting team and Sunday is their chance.”

The five starting survivors from Dublin are Liam Williams, who moves from wing to full-back instead of Leigh Halfpenny, wing Steff Evans, centre Hadleigh Parkes, scrum-half Gareth Davies and lock Cory Hill.

Regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones is rested, while Gatland has opted for a new-look back-row of Davies, Justin Tipuric in the number six shirt and Faletau, who makes a first appearance in this season’s tournament and captains his country for the first time.

Wales (v Italy): Liam Williams; George North, Owen Watkin, Hadleigh Parks, Steff Evans; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis; Cory Hill, Bradley Davies; Justin Tipuric, James Davies, Taulupe Faletau

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