Jones leads Wales against Italy

Date published: January 29 2014

Alun-Wyn Jones will captain an experienced Wales side in their Six Nations opener against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Alun-Wyn Jones will lead an experienced Wales side as they begin the defence of their Six Nations crown against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Ospreys skipper will line-up in the second-row with Perpignan's Luke Charteris as Wales look to create history by becoming the first side to win the tournament outright three times in succession.

In the front-row Paul James will win his 49th Wales cap alongside British and Irish Lions duo Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.

Dan Lydiate, player of the tournament in 2012, lines up alongside Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric and number eight Toby Faletau in the back-row.

Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland, who started all of Wales' 2012 Grand Slam fixtures, partner at half-back.

Jamie Roberts lines up alongside Scott Williams in the centre with Lions trio Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North making up the back-three.

“We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off,” said Gatland.

“Italy started last year's tournament with a win over France so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum.

“It's a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection which is a great position to be in as a coach.

“We've almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare.

“Alun-Wyn will lead the side with Sam starting on the bench and he has come through training well.”

Scarlets front-row duo Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones are named on the bench alongside Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington. Squad captain Sam Warburton and Dragons skipper Andrew Coombs complete the forward replacements.

Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb is named in a Six Nations match squad for the first time and he is joined by James Hook and Liam Williams.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams.

Date: Saturday, February 1
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Television match official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Assessor:: Clayton Thomas (Wales)