Gethin Jenkins takes over captain's duty from Warburton

Gethin Jenkins will lead Wales in their 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday with squad captain Sam Warburton ruled out of contention this weekend with a knee problem.

In one of two changes, both up front, to the starting line-up which beat England to lift the Triple Crown at Twickenham last time out, Blues open-side flanker Warburton is replaced by fellow back row specialist Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) who wins his fourth cap, but makes his first start for Wales.

Former squad captain Matthew Rees will pack down at hooker between fellow 2009 British & Irish Lions props Jenkins and Adam Jones (Ospreys) to win his 49th cap, replacing fellow Scarlet Ken Owens who moves to the bench.

In the backs a rapid return from injury for Blues centre Jamie Roberts (knee) means Wales are able to field the same back line for the fourth match running.

There are three changes on the bench with Owens replacing Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard and Dragons lock Luke Charteris, who completed his return from a wrist injury for his region on Friday, in for the promoted Tipuric.  Perpignan fly-half James Hook, now fully recovered from the illness (chicken pox) which meant he was a last minute withdrawal last week in London, returns to the bench in place of Scarlets playmaker Stephen Jones.

Blues prop Jenkins wins his 86th cap having led Wales three times already, the first time against South Africa in November 2007 when he became the 125th Welsh captain, and he takes charge of a side victorious in its last three matches and leading the Championship table with just two weekends of action left.

“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 and 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,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“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.”

Starting XV:
15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Alex Cuthbert
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Jamie Roberts
11. George North
10. Rhys Priestland
9. Mike Phillips
1. Gethin Jenkins (C)
2. Matthew Rees
3. Adam Jones
4. Alun Wyn Jones
5. Ian Evans
6. Dan Lydiate
7. Justin Tipuric
8. Toby Faletau

Replacements:
16. Ken Owens
17. Paul James
18. Luke Charteris
19. Ryan Jones
20. Lloyd Williams
21. James Hook
22. Scott Williams

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