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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 February 2019

Six Nations: Jonathan Davies to skipper much-changed Wales in Italy

Coach Warren Gatland made 10 changes from the side that forced a come-from-behind 24-19 win over France in Paris in the opening game

Jonathan Davies will captain Wales for the first time in their Six Nations match against Italy. Reuters
Jonathan Davies will captain Wales for the first time in their Six Nations match against Italy. Reuters

Centre Jonathan Davies will captain Wales for the first time in a much changed line-up against Italy in Saturday’s Six Nations clash in Rome.

Coach Warren Gatland made 10 changes from the side that forced a come-from-behind 24-19 win over France in Paris in the opening game of this year’s tournament last Friday.

Only Davies, Josh Adams, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi and Liam Williams remain from last week with English-based duo Jonah Holmes and Thomas Young handed their first Six Nations starts.

Dan Biggar has replaced Gareth Anscombe at fly-half with a new half-back partner in Aled Davies and Gatland named a new front row to take on Italy, who have lost their last 17 matches in the Six Nations.

"We have made a number of changes this weekend but have picked what we think is a very exciting team that still has huge experience throughout it," Gatland said in a statement on Thursday.

"We have made a similar number of changes to what we did last year, but it is all about opportunity for these players.

"We have had a squad of 31 training together, replicating the Rugby World Cup and it is important they get game time.

"It is a great opportunity for Jon [Davies] as captain. He has a huge amount of experience, is a great leader and it is a great honour for him to lead his country.

"Italy will be hurting after last weekend [they lost to Scotland], but they are a different proposition in Rome.

"They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat."

Gatland said Italy, who lost away to Scotland in their first match, would be a different proposition on home soil.

"Italy will be hurting after last weekend," he said. "They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat."

Wasps flanker Young is the son of Wasps rugby director and former Wales prop Dai Young, and he has been among the Premiership's most consistent performers this season.

He now has a glorious chance to show his Test credentials at the start of a World Cup year.

Victory for Wales at the Stadio Olimpico would make it 11 successive wins and equal their all-time unbeaten record set between 1907 and 1910.

Updated: February 7, 2019 04:00 PM

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