Warren Gatland’s side kicked off their campaign with victory over France courtesy of a thrilling second-half comeback and have made ten changes to their starting line-up for this weekend.
All four Welsh Pro14 sides will be represented in the XV at the Stadio Olimpico, providing seven of the eight forwards due to start.
Scarlets centre Davies named captain
Scarlets have had a difficult winter in the league with just one win in their last five league outings but Wayne Pivac’s players will play a key role in Saturday’s fixture.
Centre Jonathan Davies is one of only five players to retain their place from the France match and has also been named captain for the first time on his 70th international appearance.
After a smashing game against France last Friday, this weeks team announcement reveals a great achievement for one of our very own, @JonFoxDavies taking captaincy for the first time for his country! Congratulations Jon, we wish you the best of luck! #inthepack #ynypac pic.twitter.com/VW8dsLDqjM
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) February 7, 2019
The 30-year-old has contributed three tries in six Pro14 matches this season and Gatland is hopeful his experience and leadership will guide them to success.
Davies will be joined in the side by prop Samson Lee, who featured in the second half as a replacement last Friday, and Jake Ball as he comes into the second row.
Scrum half Gareth Davies, who crossed twice in Scarlets’ win over Benetton back on 15 September, and Wyn Jones will both begin as replacements alongside hooker Ryan Elias.
Osprey Davies set for first Six Nations start
Ospreys are currently the best placed Welsh team in this season’s Pro14, lying third in Conference A, and they are also the most heavily represented in Saturday’s line-up with four starters.
Scrum-half Aled Davies has made 622 passes in nine league appearances so far this year and is poised to make his first Six Nations start after being named to replace Tomos Williams.
— Ospreys (@ospreys) February 7, 2019
The 26 year-old will be joined among the Wales backs by Owen Watkin, who comes in at centre to partner Davies’ namesake Jon in the midfield.
Prop Nicky Smith has not made a Pro14 start since November but he too makes the line-up this weekend as part of a revamped front row, while Adam Beard keeps his place at lock following the match in Paris.
Alun Wyn Jones is the only survivor of Warren Gatland’s first Six Nations campaign with Wales back in 2008 but the regular skipper will be a replacement on this occasion.
Wainwright and Dee in for Dragons
Dragons will be looking to claim their first league win of 2019 when they travel to Edinburgh next weekend but two of Ceri Jones’s side will be in action from the start in Rome.
— Dragons 🏉 (@dragonsrugby) February 7, 2019
Aaron Wainwright makes his first Six Nations start at blindside flanker while Elliot Dee lines up alongside Lee and Smith in the front row, having crossed in the win over Ospreys on 30 December.
Ross Moriarty and winger Hallam Amos could also feature later in the match.
Navidi moves to No.8
Cardiff Blues remain in the hunt for a playoff spot in Conference A after edging out Connacht a fortnight ago and John Mulvihill’s side will be represented in Rome by stalwart forward Josh Navidi.
Navidi has made more than 100 Pro14 appearances for the club and will switch from blindside flanker to no. 8 in Gatland’s only positional change from last week.
Congratulations to @Jnavidi who will wear the number eight shirt for @WelshRugbyUnion in Rome on Saturday, and also great to see @dillon3_ and @Gareth_Anscombe featuring on the bench for the @SixNationsRugby clash! https://t.co/k37UCr5dKH
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) February 7, 2019
Prop Dillon Lewis and fly-half Gareth Anscombe are both named as replacements.