Warren Gatland has named his Wales team to take on Italy in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations opener.
Alun Wyn Jones will skipper the side as Sam Warburton starts on the bench, after the squad’s captain came through training successfully this week.
Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau make up the back row, while Luke Charteris partners Jones in the engine room. Paul James takes Gethin Jenkins’ vacant shirt in the front row, and partners Lions duo Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard.
Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland are the half backs, while Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams partner each other in the centres. George North, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny form the well-established back three.
“We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off,” said head coach Gatland.
“Italy started last year’s tournament with a win over France so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum. It’s a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection which is a great position to be in as a coach.
“We’ve almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare. Alun-Wyn will lead the side with Sam starting on the bench and he has come through training well.”
WALES SQUAD TO PLAY ITALY:
Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT – Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).