Six Nations 2019: Wales make 10 changes for Italy match

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Warren Gatland says the match against Italy is a World Cup opportunity for some players.
Six Nations: Italy v Wales
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 9 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Wales have made 10 changes to the side that won in France for Saturday's Six Nations game against Italy in Rome.

Centre Jonathan Davies is named captain for the first time with regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones among the replacements.

There are first Six Nations starts for wing Jonah Holmes, flankers Thomas Young and Aaron Wainwright and scrum-half Aled Davies.

Italy have made two changes with Wasps back Michele Campagnaro switching from wing to centre.

Wing Edoardo Padovani starts with centre Tommaso Castello dropping out of the starting side, while prop Nicola Quaglio is also included instead of Andrea Lovotti.

For Wales, captain Davies, Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Adam Beard and Josh Navidi are the only survivors from last Friday's comeback victory in Paris.

Young and Holmes will make first Six Nations appearances while Navidi switches to number eight in the only positional change.

Holmes comes in for George North on the wing, while new captain Davies is partnered by Owen Watkin in the midfield.

Scrum-half Aled Davies replaces Tomos Williams and is partnered by Dan Biggar with Garth Davies and Gareth Anscombe named as replacements.

A fresh front row sees Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee coming in for Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis, while Jake Ball partners Beard in the second row.

Jonathan Davies will be Wales 137th captain in his 70th Test for his country
Jonathan Davies will be Wales' 137th captain in his 70th Test for his country

There is a new-look back row with flankers Young and Wainwright either side of Navidi with Ross Moriarty dropping to the replacements bench.

Wales have no major injury concerns with Justin Tipuric (back) and Cory Hill (knee) only carrying minor knocks but it was not expected that the duo would have featured this weekend.

Wing North is nursing a shoulder problem and has not played much of a role in training this week in Nice.

"We have made a number of changes but have picked a very exciting team that still has huge experience," said Gatland.

"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 in Nice, replicating the World Cup.

"We wanted to include the eight players that weren't involved last weekend, it is important they get game time."

Gatland said Davies was the obvious candidate to captain the side in Rome.

"He's been around for a number of years, already brings a lot of leadership to the team and he's vocal within the squad," said Gatland.

"Looking at that group of players he seemed the obvious choice to be given the opportunity he deserves the accolade.

"It's good for him and recognition of what he's already achieved in the game."

Italy are aiming for a first victory against Wales since 2007 and are aiming to bounce back from a 33-20 defeat by Scotland last weekend.

Italy: Hayward; Padovani, Campagnaro, Morisi, Esposito; Allan, Palazzani; Quaglio, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Sisi, Budd, Negri, Steyn, Parisse (capt).

Replacements: Bigi, Traore, Pasquali, Ruzza, Barbini, Gori, McKinley, Benvenuti.

Wales: L Williams; Holmes, J Davies (capt), Watkin, Adams; Biggar, A Davies; N Smith, Dee, Lee, Ball, Beard, Wainwright, Young, Navidi.

Replacements: Elias, W Jones, D Lewis, Alun Wyn Jones, Moriarty, G Davies, Anscombe, Amos.

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