Wales v Italy: Teams
At Millennium Stadium, Saturday March 10, kick-off 2pm
Last Updated: 10/03/12 6:24pm
Table-toppers Wales host Italy in Cardiff on Saturday
Gethin Jenkins will captain Wales in the absence of Sam Warburton as the hosts attempt to keep their Grand Slam quest on track against Italy.
Warburton has a knee problem, so Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric will make his first start against the Azzurri and pack down in the back-row alongside Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.
Warburton did not play against Scotland last month because of a thigh injury that forced him off at half-time in Dublin the previous weekend.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has made one other change from the side that beat England at Twickenham in their last RBS Six Nations fixture, 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.
Former Wales captain Rees missed the World Cup due to a neck complaint, while a calf muscle strain hampered him during the early part of Wales' Six Nations campaign.
Centre Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, takes his place in midfield after recovering from a knee injury, allowing Gatland to name an unchanged back division for the fourth successive game.
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.
"We are back at the Millennium Stadium in front of our home fans, and we need to refocus sharply after our Triple Crown triumph at Twickenham if we are to give ourselves the best chance of being in contention for the championship going into that final weekend against France.
"Italy will be hoping to find us complacent, and with one eye on the French game.
"But nothing less than victory on Saturday will be accepted by this Wales team or satisfy the nation behind us, and all of that leaves the players themselves brimming with ruthless intent."
For Italy, scrum-half Fabio Semenzato will get his first start in this season's competition at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The scrum-half, who was last season's breakthrough star in the competition, is brought in to replace the injured Edorado Gori.
Semenzato is one of seven changes made by coach Jacques Brunel to the line-up that was thrashed 42-10 by Ireland in their last outing.
Tobias Botes loses his place at number 10 to Australian-born fly-half Kris Burton after an erratic performance with the boot against Ireland.
Brunel has also brought experience into his back line with the inclusion of Racing Metro winger Mirco Bergamasco and Clermont centre Gonzalo Canale, who have 157 international caps between them.
Lock Cornelius van Zyl comes into the pack in one of three changes to the forwards, with Racing Metro prop Andrea Lo Cicero and flanker Simone Favaro also included..
Wales: 15 L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); 14 A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), 13 J Davies (Scarlets), 12 J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), 11 G North (Scarlets); 10 R Priestland (Scarlets), 9 M Phillips (Bayonne); 1 G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, capt), 2 M Rees (Scarlets), 3 A Jones (Ospreys), 4 A-W Jones (Ospreys), 5 I Evans (Ospreys), 6 D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), 7 J Tipuric (Ospreys), 8 T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: 16 K Owens (Scarlets), 17 P James (Ospreys) 18 L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), 19 R Jones (Ospreys), 20 L Williams (Cardiff Blues), 21 J Hook (Perpignan), 22 S Williams (Scarlets).
Italy: 15 A Masi (Aironi); 14 L McLean (Treviso), 13 G Canale (Clermont), 12 A Sgarbi (Treviso), 11 M Bergamasco (Racing Metro); 10 K Burton (Treviso), 9 F Semenzato (Treviso); 1 A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), 2 L Ghiraldini (Treviso), 3 L Cittadini (Treviso), 4 Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), 5 C van Zyl (Treviso), 6 A Zanni (Treviso), 7 S Favaro (Aironi), 8 S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).
Replacements: 16 T D'Apice (Aironi), 17 F Staibano (Aironi), 18 M Bortolami (Aironi), 19 R Barbieri (Treviso), 20 T Botes (Treviso), 21 T Benvenuti (Treviso), 22 G Toniolatti (Aironi).