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Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Lock Jones handed Wales captaincy

Venue: Stadio Flaminio Date: Saturday, 14 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC ONE Wales and online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and online plus score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live

Jones focused on Six Nations glory

Alun Wyn Jones will captain Wales for their Six Nations match in Italy as coach Warren Gatland makes 10 changes.

Regular skipper Ryan Jones is on the bench with Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Mike Phillips, Stephen Jones and Tom Shanklin who all started in France.

Martyn Williams, Leigh Halfpenny and Ian Gough drop out of the matchday 22.

Dwayne Peel and James Hook start at half-back for the 14 March Rome clash, while Gavin Henson comes in at centre with Jamie Roberts shifting to 13.

Gatland has been keen to play Roberts and Henson together in midfield, only for a string of injuries to delay this partnership.

Henson is set to make his first Wales start for 12 months, as the defending champions attempt to bounce back from their 21-16 loss in Paris last time out.

Wales began this campaign with wins against England and Scotland before the narrow loss to France.

Italy are winless so far and seemingly destined for the wooden spoon, and Wales will expect to beat the Azzurri to set up a likely championship decider against Ireland in Cardiff on the last weekend.

"We have made a series of changes with no disrespect to Italy," Gatland said.

"If we are to consistently be one of the top four or five teams in the world we need to back the depth in our squad.

"We have made changes but there are arguments to say we are stronger in certain positions."

Elsewhere in Gatland's wholesale rotation, Mark Jones returns to the wing in place of Halfpenny, although Wales record try scorer Shane Williams retains his place on the other flank.

In the forwards, John Yapp, Huw Bennett and Rhys Thomas form a new front-row unit.

Ospreys lock Jones, who will become Wales' 127th captain when he leads his side out at the Stadio Flaminio, is partnered in the boiler room by Luke Charteris of the Dragons.

The best teams in the world develop depth of experience in their squad and back themselves

Wales coach Warren Gatland

Blues' Bradley Davies is the replacement second row and will be hoping to add to the one Wales cap he won off the bench against Scotland.

Number eight Andy Powell is the only player to retain his place in the back row, with Jon Thomas replacing his Ospreys colleague Ryan Jones at blind-side and Dafydd Jones given the seven shirt.

Thomas, an important influence in the line-out, has been sidelined with neck, shoulder and groin problems but returns to win his 47th cap.

"If I was playing against Italy I would be excited about both the opportunity which presents itself and, looking around me, about the team which has been selected," Gatland added.

"We have come a long way in the last 12 months and achieved a fantastic amount, but the best teams in the world develop depth of experience in their squad and back themselves.

JB 1973

"The choice of Alun Wyn as captain next week is an example of us doing exactly that and also looking to the future."

Sale's Peel, who was initially omitted from Gatland's 28-man 2009 Six Nations squad, completes his transformation from outcast to starter and will play his first Wales game since their 47-8 victory over Italy last year.

Hook and Peel have not been half-back partners since Wales' Test defeat by South Africa in November 2007.

Ospreys outside-half Hook has started only one game - a lacklustre autumn international victory over Canada in Cardiff - since their 2008 Grand Slam clincher against France in last year's Six Nations.

The 27-year-old has been plagued with injuries and missed Wales' opening Six Nations wins over Scotland and England with a calf injury.

Wales have never lost against a northern hemisphere side when Henson has started and he partnered Shanklin to the Grand Slam in 2005 and 2008.

Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Mark Jones (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sale); John Yapp (Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Dragons), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (capt, Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Andy Powell (Blues).
Replacements: Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Bradley Davies (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues).

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see also
Jones revels in captaincy honour
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Full-back Masi handed Italy call
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Byrne backs Wales to bounce back
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France 21-16 Wales
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Wales 23-15 England
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Scotland 13-26 Wales
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Peel earns late Welsh squad call
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Wales omit Peel for Six Nations
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Wales rugby results archive
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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