CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales rewarded the team that earned a surprise win against France by naming an unchanged starting lineup for the Six Nations match against Italy on Feb. 23, meaning captain Sam Warburton remains out of contention.
Warburton was missing against France because of a "stinger" injury to his shoulder and Wales coach Robert Howley said on Tuesday the flanker is still feeling the problem "to some extent" even though it had improved.
However, Howley appeared to suggest that Warburton would have failed to regain his place by adding: "I just want to clarify that the team comes first and the way the team played (against France), they deserve to start again."
Ryan Jones will continue as captain for the defending champion, with Howley saying the flanker "was outstanding in terms of his leadership" in the 16-6 win in Paris as the Welsh ended an eight-match losing run to revive their Six Nations hopes.
The selection — made 11 days before the match — is dependent on injuries, with some players turning out for their clubs this weekend. The full 23-man squad will be named next Tuesday and could include lock Alun-Wyn Jones, who is fit again and back training with Wales after injuring his shoulder in the autumn internationals.
Wales started the Six Nations by losing 30-22 at home to Ireland.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Jones (captain), Ian Evans, Andrew Coombs, Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins.