Gatland makes wholesale changes

07 March 2018 07:35:57 EST

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has altered almost his entire pack for Sunday's Six Nations encounter with Italy in Cardiff.

He has made 10 alterations in total with Taulupe Faletau returning at No.8 to captain Wales for the first time.

Second row Cory Hill is the only member of the pack that played in the 37-27 defeat to Ireland in Dublin to have kept his place, while Faletau returns to the side after recovering from a knee injury.

Justin Tipuric and James Davies will team up with Faletau while Bradley Davies starts alongside Hill, with an all-new front row of Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Tomas Francis.

Gareth Anscombe replaces Dan Biggar at fly-half, while Owen Watkin starts at outside centre and George North has been named on the wing, with Liam Williams moving to full-back.

Gatland said: "It is a great opportunity for Taulupe. He is a world-class player, hugely experienced and this will be great for his development. We are looking forward to seeing those leadership qualities come through.

"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."

Wales are 1/1 to beat Italy with a 29.5-point handicap while they are 10/11 to score over 136.5 points in this year's Six Nations.

Wales team to play Italy:

Liam Williams (Saracens), George North (Northampton Saints), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Steff Evans (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Cory Hill (Dragons), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), James Davies (Scarlets), Taulupe Faletau (Bath).

Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets).

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