Taulupe Faletau returns for Wales as Warren Gatland makes 10 changes for Italy

Taulupe Faletau returns for Wales as Warren Gatland makes 10 changes for Italy
Bath number eight Faletau will skipper Wales against Italy on Sunday.

Wales boss Warren Gatland has made 10 changes to the side that lost to Ireland most recently in Six Nations play as Taulupe Faletau is set to make his return to action on Sunday against Italy.

Gatland has hailed Faletau's "world-class" quality as he prepares to captain his country for the first time with regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones rested.

Liam Williams, Steff Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Gareth Davies and Cory Hill are the only players to survive from the 37-27 loss in Dublin.

Scarlets flanker James Davies makes his Test debut as Gareth Anscombe takes Dan Biggar's place at fly-half.

George North starts at right wing, with Liam Williams switching to full-back and Owen Watkin making a maiden Six Nations start at centre.

Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Tomas Francis form an all-new front row, as lock Hill is joined in the second row by Bradley Davies.

Faletau has not played since Wales' 24-22 win over South Africa in December because of a knee injury.

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 and 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.

"Add into that James Davies, who gets his first cap, and 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."

Wales are effectively out of the title running following successive losses at Twickenham and the Aviva Stadium.

Wales team: Liam Williams, George North, Owen Watkin, Hadleigh Parkes, Steffan Evans, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, James Davies, Taulupe Faletau (captain).

Substitutes: Ken Owens, Rob Evans, Samson Lee, Seb Davies, Ellis Jenkins, Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell, Leigh Halfpenny.


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