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28 January 2014, 11:58am

James to start for Wales in RBS 6 Nations opener

Bath Rugby prop Paul James will start for Wales this weekend as they begin their defence of their RBS 6 Nations crown against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 14.30.

Alun Wyn Jones will lead the team in the absence of Sam Warburton from the starting line-up, and is part of a side who have all tasted Six Nations success in recent years.

The Ospreys skipper will line-up in the second-row with Perpignan's Luke Charteris as Wales look to create history by becoming the first side to win the tournament outright three times in succession.

James will win his 49th Wales cap alongside British and Irish Lions duo Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones (both Ospreys).

Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), player of the tournament in 2012, lines up alongside Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric and Newport Gwent Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau in the back row.

Mike Phillips (Racing Metro) and Rhys Priestland (Scarlets) who started all of Wales' 2012 Grand Slam fixtures, partner at half-back.

Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro) lines up alongside Scott Williams (Scarlets) in the centre with Lions trio Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert (both Cardiff Blues) and George North (Northampton Saints) making up the back-three.

"We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off," said Warren Gatland.

"Italy started last year's tournament with a win over France so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum.

"It's a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection which is a great position to be in as a coach.”

Wales squad to play Italy 

Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT - Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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