James Davies to make Wales debut as Taulupe Faletau returns to captain side

Taulupe Faletau will lead Wales for the first time after he was picked in an exciting back row alongside James Davies and Justin Tipuric. Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

James Davies will make his Wales debut against Italy on Sunday after Warren Gatland picked the Scarlets flanker in a much-changed side that will be captained by the returning Taulupe Faletau.

Davies and Faletau are included in the back row for the Six Nations clash alongside Justin Tipuric, who is handed the No. 6 shirt for the game at the Principality Stadium.

Faletau will skipper the team for the first time from No. 8, while Bradley Davies, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis and Elliot Dee also come into the pack.

Behind the scrum, Gareth Anscombe is picked at fly-half while Owen Watkin and George North are both given their first starts of the Six Nations. Rhys Patchell is recalled on the bench.

"It is a great opportunity for Taulupe, he is a world class player, hugely experienced and this will be great for his development and we are looking forward to seeing those leadership qualities come through," Wales head coach Gatland said.

"We have made some changes, but we are bringing in a lot of quality and a lot of experience with the likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, George North and Taulupe.

"Add into that James Davies who gets his first cap, Elliot Dee who gets his first start - this is a great opportunity for them to play tournament rugby. "It is challenging making changes, but we have picked a really exciting team and Sunday is their chance."

Wales team to play Italy:

L. Williams, North, Watkin, Parkes, S. Evans, Anscombe, G. Davies; Smith, Dee, Francis, Hill, B. Davies, Tipuric, J. Davies, Faletau (captain).

Replacements: Owens, R. Evans, Lee, S. Davies, Jenkins, A. Davies, Patchell, Halfpenny.