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Sport24.co.za | Lydiate to captain Wales against Italy



London – Dan Lydiate will captain Wales in their final match of the 2016 Six
Nations at home to Italy after first-choice skipper Sam Warburton was
given more time to recover from concussion, the Welsh Rugby Union
announced on Tuesday.

Warburton left the field in the second half of
Wales’s 25-21 defeat by England at Twickenham last weekend – a result
that ended his side’s title hopes.

He has now been replaced as
skipper by fellow flank Lydiate in one of four changes announced by
coach Warren Gatland for Saturday’s match against bottom-of-the-table
Italy in Cardiff.

Lydiate last captained his country in a midweek match against Eastern Province Kings during Wales’s 2014 tour of South Africa.

Wing
Hallam Amos, scrum-half Rhys Webb, flanker Justin Tipuric and lock Luke
Charteris have all been brought into the starting side.

Saturday’s
match will be Webb’s first start since September after he missed
Wales’s run to the quarter-finals last year’s World Cup in England with a
foot injury suffered in the team’s final warm-up match against Italy.

He takes over from Gareth Davies, who drops down to the bench after giving way to Webb during the second half at Twickenham.

Meanwhile
injuries have seen Amos replace Alex Cuthbert (foot) and Charteris come
in for experienced second row Alun Wyn Jones (heel).

On the
bench, Gatland has named both Tomas Francis and Aaron Jarvis as
replacement props, with Francis’s participation subject to the outcome
of a disciplinary hearing after he was cited for a possible eye-gouge on
England font-row Dan Cole during last weekend’s loss.

Elsewhere
among the replacements, prop Gethin Jenkins returns after recovering
from a calf muscle injury, and both Scarlets lock Jake Ball and
Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty have been included.

Victory
for Wales over Italy will see them finish second behind already-crowned
champions England and they will be firm favourites to beat the Azzurri,
who have lost all four of their Six Nations matches so far this season.

Despite
a late rally that saw them score two tries inside the final six minutes
at Twickenham, Wales’s hopes of beating England were effectively undone
by a sluggish first-half that saw them 16-0 down at the break.

“This weekend it is all about finishing off the tournament well and putting in a big performance,” said Gatland.

“We
are disappointed with last week, especially the first half, but a win
on Saturday will see us finish the tournament in second and we have to
aim for that now,” added the New Zealander, whose side finished third in
last season’s Six Nations.

“There are a number of changes, a couple injury enforced.

“Alun Wyn Jones has an injury that we have been managing for a while, and he has played a lot of games.

“We
have given Sam Warburton the week off. We decided not to push him
through all the return to play protocols, and we have also been managing
an injury with Alex, so Hallam comes on to the left wing.

“Saturday is a good chance for some of the players to redeem themselves, and we are looking for a big performance.

“I’ve
been involved in a couple of games when Dan has captained the midweek
sides. He jumped at the opportunity this weekend, and it will be good to
see how he goes.”

Teams:

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Rob Evans

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe

Italy: TBA



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