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Dan Lydiate to captain Wales against Italy on Saturday

Lydiate will skipper Wales in their final match of the 2016 Six Nations after Sam Warburton was given more time to recover from concussion
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Dan Lydiate to captain Wales against Italy on Saturday

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 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 flanker 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."


Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate (capt); Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies; Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans

Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis/Aaron Jarvis, Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe


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