Jones welcomes return of Welsh trio

WALES out-half Stephen Jones has welcomed the return of skipper Ryan Jones, prop Gethin Jenkins and scrum-half Mike Phillips from injury for his side’s clash with Italy tomorrow in Cardiff.

“It's fantastic to have three players of that quality coming back into the team,” said Jones.

“They're obviously great players, got a wealth of experience and are good leaders as well.”

Jones will link up with Phillips at half-back for the first time in a Wales jersey for 12 months–- his fourth scrum-half partner of the championship – saying: “I think we all know Mike's strengths. He's very physical, he takes on defences, he's got good service and is good athlete.

“Mike's certainly got his unique way of playing the game.”

Italy have made four changes plus one positional switch, bringing in wing Kaine Robertson, scrum-half Pablo Canavosio, lock Carlo Del Fava and flanker Paul Derbyshire, while three-quarter Andrea Masi switches from wing to centre.

Del Fava and Derbyshire will be subject to late fitness checks, however, and if they are not fit, second-row Marco Bortolami and back-rower Josh Sole will return to the starting side and Valerio Bernabo and Manoa Vosawai will come onto the bench.

“I do not think Wales are vulnerable,” said Italy fly-half Craig Gower.

“Wales will come out firing and it will be a big challenge for us.

“We have to do the basics right and see what comes. We are using the ball more than we used to.

“Ireland was a disappointing game for us in terms of moving the ball but we improved against England and Scotland and will be looking to create opportunities.

“We have changed from being a forward-based team; I do not want to give the ball away all the time but you have to be smart.”

WALES: L Byrne, T Prydie, J Hook, J Roberts, S Williams; S Jones, M. Phillips; G Jenkins, M Rees, A Jones, B Davies, L Charteris, J Thomas, S Warburton, R Jones (c).

Replacements: H Bennett, P James, I Gough, G Delve, D Peel, A Bishop, T Shanklin.

ITALY: L McLean; K Robertson, A Masi, G Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; C Gower, P Canavosio; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, C Del Fava/M Bortolami, Q Geldenhuys, P Derbyshire/J Sole, Mauro Bergamasco, A Zanni.

Replacements: F Ongaro, M Aguero, M Bortolami/V Bernabo, J Sole/M Vosawai, T Tebaldi, R Bocchino, G Canale.

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