Six Nations: Alun Wyn Jones to lead Wales against Italy this Saturday
Alun Wyn Jones has been named Wales skipper for Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy in Cardiff.
Last Updated: 28/01/14 4:54pm
Jones, who led the Lions to victory in the third and final Test against Australia last summer, captains his country for the first time since 2009 with Sam Warburton starting on the replacements' bench after two months out with a shoulder injury.
The Ospreys skipper will line up in the second row beside Luke Charteris of Perpignan, while Paul James of Bath wins his 49th cap in the front-row alongside Lions duo Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.
Dan Lydiate, who was named player of the tournament two years ago, partners flanker Justin Tipuric and number eight Taulupe Faletau in the back row.
However, Lydiate is a doubt after leaving Wales' training base on Tuesday to fly back to Paris, where his fiancée is expecting the couple's first child.
If Lydiate is ruled out, then Warburton will be promoted to the starting line-up.
In the backs, Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland, both ever-present in Wales Grand Slam-winning squad of 2012, are named at scrum-half and fly-half.
Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams are 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 Wales coach Warren 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."
Wales: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, S Williams, Roberts, North, Priestland, Phillips, James, Hibbard; Adam Jones, Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Lydiate, Tipuric, Faletau.
Replacements: Owens, Bevington, Jones, Coombs, Warburton, Webb, Hook, L Williams.