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Warburton back for Wales

Wales have received a huge boost for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam clash against France in Cardiff after captain Sam Warburton was declared fit.

Warburton will replace flanker Justin Tipuric as the only change following last weekend's victory over Italy.

Warburton has played just 120 minutes' rugby in the Six Nations this season. He was forced off at half-time during the opening weekend victory over Ireland due to a thigh injury, then sat out Scotland's Millennium Stadium visit before a knee problem suffered against England at Twickenham sidelined him for Italy.

But the 23-year-old's return is critical to a Wales team seeking coach Warren Gatland's second Six Nations title and Grand Slam of his four-year reign.

Prop Gethin Jenkins sees leadership duties passed back to Warburton, while hooker Matthew Rees, who missed the World Cup because of a neck injury that required surgery, wins his 50th cap.

The Wales back division, one that has scored all nine of Wales' Six Nations tries this term, is unchanged for a fifth successive Test match.

Tipuric, meanwhile, misses out on the match-day 22, with Wales' 2008 Grand Slam skipper Ryan Jones providing back-row cover, and scrum-half Lloyd Williams returns among the replacements instead of Rhys Webb, who made his Test debut against Italy.

Wales team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship in Cardiff on Saturday:

L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), P James (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Jones (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).


From Belfast Telegraph