Six Nations: Warren Gatland makes TEN changes for Italy clash as Wales bid for 11th successive win to equal unbeaten record

7 Feb

Wasps forward Thomas Young will make his Six Nations debut for Wales against Italy on Saturday.

The flanker, who is the son of Wasps rugby director and former Wales prop Dai Young, lines up alongside back-row colleagues Aaron Wainwright and Josh Navidi in Rome.

Thomas Young is all set for his Wales bow

Centre Jonathan Davies captains his country for the first time with regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones on the replacements’ bench as Warren Gatland makes ten changes and one positional switch from the side that beat France last week.

There is also a Six Nations bow for Leicester back Jonah Holmes, who made his Test debut during this season’s autumn series, with scrum-half Aled Davies and flanker Wainwright handed first starts in the tournament.

Centre Owen Watkin, fly-half Dan Biggar, hooker Elliot Dee and lock Jake Ball also feature, with Navidi moving from blindside flanker to number eight.

North, who scored two against France, has not made the matchday squad

Players that started the 24-19 victory over France not involved in Wales’ match-day 23 this weekend include wing George North, centre Hadleigh Parkes and hooker Ken Owens as Gatland maximises a 31-man squad that has trained in Nice this week.

Young, who won two caps on Wales’ 2017 summer tour against Tonga and Samoa, has been among the Gallagher Premiership’s most consistent performers this season.

He now has a glorious chance to show his Test credentials at the start of a World Cup year.

Victory for Wales at the Stadio Olimpico would make it 11 successive wins and equal their all-time unbeaten record set between 1907 and 1910.

Gatland said: “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.

“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.

Davies will captain Wales for the Italy match

“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.

“Italy will be hurting after last weekend (they lost to Scotland), but they are a different proposition in Rome.

“They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat.”

Gatland has rung the changes against Italy

Wales squad to face Italy:

 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.