Three players set to feature in the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 – Scarlets prop Wyn Jones, Dragons RFC wing Rio Dyer and Cardiff Rugby full-back Liam Williams – have been brought into the Wales starting XV for their Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome on Saturday.
The trio are set to be in EPCR Challenge Cup knockout stage action in just over three weeks’ time as Scarlets host CA Brive, Dragons visit Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff welcome Sale Sharks.
They are among a swathe of changes made by head coach Warren Gatland as Wales look to end a run of successive defeats at the start of this year’s Six Nations and boost their hopes of avoiding the Wooden Spoon.
Hooker Ken Owens is the other Scarlets representative in the starting team, with the Cardiff trio of No.8 Taulupe Faletau, centre Mason Grady and wing Josh Adams also retaining their places.
Get your diaries out 📢
Which #ChallengeCupRugby Round of 16 thriller will you be watching? 🤩 pic.twitter.com/qWfx6D2Tou
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 26, 2023
There is a further Cardiff duo among the replacements in prop Dillon Lewis and scrum-half Tomos Williams.
Meanwhile, Italy’s starting XV features 10 players from Benetton Rugby, who are at home to Connacht Rugby in the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16.
The second-row pairing of Niccolò Cannone and Federico Ruzza lines up behind hooker Giacomo Nicotera and prop Simone Ferrari, with Sebastian Blacks and Michele Lamaro either side of No.8 Lorenzo Cannone in the back row.
Tommaso Menoncello partners Juan Ignacio Brex in midfield while Edoardo Padovani is on the wing.