Former Wales captain Sam Warburton will start at blindside flanker in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy (2pm, live on RTÉ2).

Justin Tipuric retains the number seven shirt, with Gloucester's Ross Moriarty completing the back-row and Scarlets lock Jake Ball chosen as new skipper Alun Wyn Jones' second-row partner.

Elsewhere, scrum-half Rhys Webb is recalled after missing most of Wales' autumn Test series this season through injury, with Scarlets pair Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies teaming up in midfield and 86 times-capped Jamie Roberts named on the bench.

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Interim head coach Rob Howley's team for Rome also includes Ospreys loosehead prop Nicky Smith, who takes over from an injured Gethin Jenkins, but uncapped flankers Thomas Young and Olly Cracknell have missed out making the match-day 23.

Bath forwards Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris both miss the Stadio Olimpico encounter due to injury.

There are five changes from the side that beat South Africa in the autumn finale as Wales target a strong start ahead of next week's Principality Stadium appointment with Six Nations title holders England.

Webb's return is the only back division switch, with Smith, Samson Lee, Ball and Warburton all featuring up-front.

Howley said: "I am delighted to name an experienced team for the game against Italy, and to welcome back five players who missed out on the opportunity against South Africa in the autumn.

"The Six Nations is a special tournament, and we are looking forward to being highly competitive.

"We feel this is the best side selected to start the campaign. We want to get off to a good start, and we feel experience will be vital in that.

"There has been a lot of energy and enthusiasm over the past two weeks, and we are excited going into Sunday.

"We know we are going to Rome to face a hugely-motivated and very competitive Italian side."

Smith will make his Six Nations debut, while three other players - replacements Cory Hill, James King and Sam Davies - are also all set for a first taste of action in the tournament.

Wales have won 10 successive Tests against Italy, and topped 60 points on each of their last two Six Nations outings against them.

But they will be wary of an Azzurri outfit now under the coaching direction of former Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea, especially as Italy beat South Africa for the first time in Test match history just under three months ago.

Wales: L Halfpenny (Toulon); G North (Northampton), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), L Williams (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); N Smith (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), S Lee (Scarlets), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Evans (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), C Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), J King (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), S Davies (Ospreys), J Roberts (Harlequins).

Live Six Nations coverage of Scotland versus Ireland on RTÉ Two from 1.30pm on Saturday (KO 2.25pm) and live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday Sport programme from 2pm.

Live coverage of Scotland v Ireland in the Women’s Six Nations on RTÉ Two from 6.30pm (KO 6.35pm) on RTÉ 2, with live radio updates and reaction on an extended 2FM Game On programme at 7pm. 

Live coverage of Scotland v Ireland in the U20's Six Nations on RTÉ Two from 8.15pm (KO 8.30pm)