Taulupe Faletau is set to captain Wales for their upcoming Six Nations clash against Italy. The 27-year-old, who has made 70 appearances for the Dragons, will be looking to boost his team’s confidence, following consecutive defeats to England and Ireland.
It’s been a difficult start to Wales’ Six Nations campaign. A number of notable injuries has seen Warren Gatland’s side fail to keep up with the other home nations, but Wales have the opportunity to make a statement this weekend with a convincing performance against a struggling Italy. Gatland has confirmed that Bath No. 8 Taulupe Faletau will captain the team, with fly-half Gareth Ascombe, wing George North, centre Owen Watkin, and hooker Elliot Dee also set to return.
In fact, Gatland is rumoured to be considering 10 changes to the side that lost 37-27 to Ireland last week, and Scarlets flanker James Davies could make his test debut. The five players that will retain their place in Wales’ starting line-up are lock Cory Hill, centre Hadleigh Parkes, scrum-half Gareth Davies, wing Steff Evans, and Liam Davies – who will replace Leigh Halfpenny. Veteran captain Alun Wyn-Jones is set to be rested for the match, allowing Faletau to make his his first appearance of the tournament and debut as Wales skipper.
“It is a great opportunity for Taulupe. He is a world-class player, hugely experienced and this will be great for his development and we are looking forward to seeing those leadership qualities come through.” said Gatland.
“We have made some changes, but we are bringing in a lot of quality and a lot of experience with the likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, George North and Taulupe.
“Add into that James Davies, who gets his first cap, and Elliot Dee, who gets his first start – this is a great opportunity for them to play tournament rugby.
“It is challenging making changes, but we have picked a really exciting team, and Sunday is their chance.”
Here is the full squad for the match:
Wales:15 Liam Williams, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 George North, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Bradley Davies, 5 Cory Hill, 6 Justin Tipuric, 7 James Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau (c)
Replacements:16 Ken Owens, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.