JONATHAN Davies will captain Wales for the first time on Saturday (Feb 9) as he leads his country against Italy in Rome (KO 16.45 GMT).
Davies will win his 70th cap at Stadio Olimpico and becomes Wales’ 137th captain.
He will line up in midfield alongside Owen Watkin with Dan Biggar and Aled Davies named at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.
Liam Williams and Josh Adams, who both started in Paris last week, are joined by Jonah Holmes in the back-three with the latter making his first GUINNESS Six Nations appearance.
In the pack Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee form a new look front-row with Jake Ball coming into the second-row alongside Adam Beard.
In the back-row Josh Navidi moves to No. 8, Aaron Wainwright starts at blindside flanker and Thomas Young makes his first Six Nations appearance on the openside.
“We have made a number of changes this weekend but have picked what we think is a very exciting team that still has huge experience throughout it,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
“We have made a similar number of changes to what we did last year, but it is all about opportunity for these players.
“We have had a squad of 31 training together, replicating the Rugby World Cup and it is important they get game-time.
“It is a great opportunity for Jon (Davies) as captain. He has a huge amount of experience, is a great leader and it is a great honour for him to lead his country.
“Italy will be hurting after last weekend but they are a different proposition in Rome. They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat.”
Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis are the front-row replacements on the bench with Alun Wyn Jones and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe and Hallam Amos provide Wales’ backline cover.
Wales Team To Play Italy (Saturday, February 9, KO 16.45 GMT – Live ITV & S4C)
- Liam Williams (52 Caps), 14. Jonah Holmes (1 Cap), 13. Jonathan Davies (69 Caps) (Capt), 12. Owen Watkin (9 Caps), 11. Josh Adams (7 Caps), 10. Dan Biggar (66 Caps), 9. Aled Davies (12 Caps), 1. Nicky Smith (24 Caps), 2. Elliot Dee (14 Caps), 3. Samson Lee (39 Caps), 4. Jake Ball (29 Caps), 5. Adam Beard (9 Caps), 6. Aaron Wainwright (4 Caps), 7. Thomas Young (2 Caps), 8. Josh Navidi (12 Caps).
Replacements: 16. Ryan Elias (6 Caps), 17. Wyn Jones (11 Caps), 18. Dillon Lewis (8 Caps), 19 Alun Wyn Jones (121 Caps), 20. Ross Moriarty (27 Caps), 21. Gareth Davies (37 Caps), 22. Gareth Anscombe (22 Caps), 23. Hallam Amos (18 Caps)
More signings as Cwm build squad
FOLLOWING on from announcing their three new signings last week Cwmamman United have announced a further six this week.
Nathan Davies, who has captained the Carmarthenshire League Select side, joins from Bwlch Rangers while Rob Morgans joins having played with Haverfordwest County and Goodwick United previously.
They also announced the signing of four tremendously talented young players in Oliver Diamond, Korey Palmer, Stevie Evans and Joe Lewis.
“We are really pleased to have these boys on board as we are not only strengthening our first team squad with some really talented players ” said Ryan Stephens, First Team Manager, “but we are also building for the future.”
Ammanford romp to friendly win
AMMANFORD romped away in a goal fest in this pre season friendly beating their plucky opponents Pontarddulais by ten goals to nil on Friday (Jul 12).
Ammanford Manager Gruffydd Harrison will be pleased with his teams workout and even more excited with his forward line finishing prowess.
There were hat tricks for Gavin Jones who showed excellent pace and new signing Tristan Jenkins along with goals from Lee Trundle, Bruno Forkouh, Mathew Fisher and Craig Frater.
Ammanford have another friendly this Friday (Jul 19) when they take on Ynysygerwn.
After that they travel to Pontardawe Town on Tuesday (Jul 23) before a trip to Welsh Premier League neighbours Carmarthen Town on Saturday (Jul 27).
Carmarthenshire cyclist heading to Mont Blanc
WITH THE TOUR DE FRANCE in full swing and the World’s best doing battle against each other, there is another big cycling event taking place within the French Alps.
The Tour du Mont Blanc claims to be the Worlds toughest road cycling event and Llangadog based cyclist, Matthew Page will be lining up and attempting to complete the arduous route.
The event is a non-stop, circumnavigation around the alpine peak of Mont Blanc, starting in France alpine resort of Les Saisies and heads through Switzerland and Italy before returning to finish back in Les Saisies.
Covering a total of 330km (205 miles) with 8300 vertical metres (27,300 feet) of climbing it is roughly the equivalent to tackling two of the toughest Tour de France stages, back to back without stopping and takes in well known alpine passes including the Grand Saint Bernard, Petit Saint Bernard, Cormet de Roseland and Col de la Forclaz.
Matthew is a former professional Mountain Biker, who competed internationally and specialised in 24hr solo competitions and also Carmarthenshire Sports Personality winner. Now a cycle event organiser and cycling media journalist he organises major off-road events within the county including Battle on the Beach, Gritfest and in November 2019 will be organising a round of the British Cycling cyclocross national series within Pembrey Country Park.
With less than 50% of starters likely to finish, Matthew is understandably apprehensive about the challenge: “This will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days I will ever encounter on the bike and despite having done 24hr events previously, the extra challenges the Tour du Mont Blanc brings, including lack of a support crew, route navigation, logistics and uncertain weather especially at higher altitudes. The event has been a major focus for me this year and I am looking forward to the challenge”.
The event takes place on Saturday July 20, with the fastest riders expected to finish in under 12 hours.
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