Six Nations 2023: Rhys Webb returns to start for Wales against Italy for the first time in six years.
For his first Wales start since 2017, Rhys Webb is back at scrum-half against Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday in Rome.
The 34-year-old steps in for Tomos Williams, and Rio Dyer replaces Louis Rees-Zammit on the wing.
Moreover, Dafydd Jenkins, Jac Morgan, Liam Williams, and prop Wyn Jones are added by Wales coach Warren Gatland.
Christ Tshiunza, Leigh Halfpenny, Gareth Thomas, and Lock Alun Wyn Jones are left out.
While Dan Biggar is unable to play due to a back injury, Wales, who are winless, continue to start Joe Hawkins at center and Owen Williams at fly-half.
longtime Ospreys lock Jones is also not participating, and his 22-year-old teammate Rhys Davies is sitting on the bench with Adam Beard and Jenkins from Exeter.
Another who completely misses out is Tshiunza, with Tommy Reffell of the Leicester Tigers filling in the back row.
Ospreys’s sup Thomas is moved to the bench, where 30-year-old George North will be one of the stand-ins for Wales’ 20-year-old centers Hawkins and Mason Grady.
With Webb and Owen Williams at halfback and Hawkins as the inside center playmaker, Wales’ back play will be significantly impacted.
In Wales’ losses to Scotland and Ireland, Liam Williams was given a red card, and for the defeat against England, Halfpenny filled in at fullback.
But, Liam Williams is returned and Halfpenny is no longer present at the matchday party.
Many see the trip to Rome as the game that decides who gets the wooden spoon because Italy is also winless and Wales plays France in Paris a week later.
“We feel that getting men on the ball is going to be quite vital,” Gatland said, “having watched Italy and how they’ll tend to play from anywhere, including their own 22.
Rhys Webb, who has been training well, is given a chance at nine. He’s been fantastic for the team; he gives the nine position his expertise and voice.
Liam Williams is inserted at fullback. We did talk about the possible placement of Louis Rees-Zammit at fullback and how that would have seemed.
“But he still hasn’t played much rugby after recovering from a fairly serious ankle injury, and we just felt that, given the nature of the match and the pace of play, his contribution off the bench could be significant.
With Italy, Allan takes Capuozzo’s spot at fullback.
Italy facing the five Welsh reforms you desired
Wooden Spoon is “the last thing you want,” says Warren Gatland, Wales’ coach
“We’ve been disappointed with the results so far, and it’s tough for me since this is the first Six Nations tournament that I’ve lost three games with Wales.
There are no excuses, but we’ve had a lot of things going on off the field as well.
“The players have been told that we must be shrewd in how we play, but we must also be brave and ensure that we shift the ball when the opportunity present themselves.
We must continuously survey the field and consider our alternatives. If there is a possibility to move the ball, take the initiative and do it.
Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Mason Grady, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer, Owen Williams, Rhys Webb, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Dafydd Jenkins, Adam Beard, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, and Taulupe Faletau are the players for Wales.
Replacements include Louis Rees-Zammit, Tommy Reffell, George North, Dillon Lewis, Scott Baldwin, Gareth Thomas, Tommy Reffell, and Tomos Williams.