Davies to skipper much-changed Wales in Italy

Davies to skipper much-changed Wales in Italy
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(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.

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 flyhalf with a new halfback 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."

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."

Team: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Jonah Holmes, 13-Jonathan Davies (captain), 12-Owen Watkin, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Aled Davies, 8-Josh Navidi, 7-Thomas Young, 6-Aaron Wainwright, 5-Adam Beard, 4-Jake Ball, 3-Samson Lee, 2-Elliot Dee, 1-Nicky Smith

Replacements: 16-Ryan Elias, 17-Wyn Jones, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Alun Wyn Jones, 20-Ross Moriarty, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Gareth Anscombe, 23-Hallam Amos.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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