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Warburton misses Italy clash

Wales captain Sam Warburton will miss his second game of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship after being sidelined for the Millennium Stadium clash against Italy on Saturday.

Prop Gethin Jenkins takes over as skipper from flanker Warburton, who has a knee problem, with Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric packing down in the back row alongside Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

The highly-rated Tipuric, 22, makes his first Wales start, with Warburton - who did not play against Scotland last month because of a thigh injury - ruled out.

And Wales coach Warren Gatland has clearly decided to take no chances with his World Cup leader ahead of a potential Six Nations title decider and Grand Slam game against France on Saturday week.

Gatland has made one other change from the side that beat England at Twickenham 10 days ago, recalling fit-again hooker Matthew Rees instead of Ken Owens. Rees' return means Gatland can field the 2009 British and Irish Lions Test front row of Jenkins, Rees and Adam Jones.

And there is a notable addition to the bench, with World Cup lock Luke Charteris providing second-row cover. Charteris has played just one game - for Newport Gwent Dragons against Munster three days ago - since undergoing wrist surgery after the World Cup.

Three changes on the bench see Charteris replace Tipuric, Owens taking over from Richard Hibbard and James Hook, fit again following a bout of chickenpox, in for Stephen Jones.

Gatland said: "Due to injuries to all three players at one time or another, we have not been able to field this 2009 Lions front row too often. So, although we are more than happy with the job Ken has done for us, we are giving Matthew the opportunity make his contribution as the competition reaches its climax."

Wales team: 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, capt), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), 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