Wales the only team still in a position to capture wins in every game in this years RBS 6 Nations Championship, host Italy on Saturday 10 March at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff. With a 14:30 GMT kick-off and live on BBC One.
The Welsh must be supremely confident of moving another step down the path to the title they last held in 2008. For the Azzurri, they will look for a good performance and to compete up front as they have in every game to-date.
Gethin Jenkins has been handed the captains arm-band as Sam Warburton is sidelined with a knee injury and replaced by Justin Tipuric, with Luke Charteris coming onto the bench. In the front row Matthew Rees returns from injury pushing out Ken Owens who moves to the bench. James Hook gets the nod on the bench over Stephen Jones.
Warren Gatland said of his selection of the front row: “Due to injuries to all three players at one time or another we have not been able to field this 2009 Lions front row too often. So, although we are more than happy with the job Ken has done for us, we are giving Matthew the opportunity to make his contribution as the competition reaches its climax. We are back at the Millennium Stadium in front of our home fans and we need to refocus sharply, after our Triple Crown triumph at Twickenham, if we are to give ourselves the best chance of being in contention for the Championship going into that final weekend against France. Italy will be hoping to find us complacent and with one eye on the French game, but nothing less than victory on Saturday will be accepted by this Wales team or satisfy the nation behind us.”
Italy have made changes as Canale comes into the starting 15 along with a first start this year for Mirco Bergamasco on the wing with Venditti out. Kristopher Burton gets the starting 10 shirt with Botes switching to the bench. The pack sees Andrea Lo Cicero in for Rizzo and Cornelius van Zyl in for Bortolami who moves to the bench. In at seven is Simone Favaro with Barbieri moving to the bench.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 1 Gethin Jenkins(c), 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Toby Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Luke Charteris, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Rhys Webb, 21 James Hook, 22 Scott Williams
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Luke McLean, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 7 Simone Favaro, 8 Sergio Parisse(c).
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Fabio Staibano, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Robert Barbieri, 20 Tobias Botes, 21 Tommaso Benvenuti, 22 Giulio Toniolatti
Referee : George Clancy (IRE)
Touch judges : Peter Fitzgibbon (IRE) & Peter Allan (SCO)
TV : Geoff Hughes (ENG)