Other than Warburtons benching, the team looks pretty settled with veterans Mike Phillips, Jamie Robert, Luke Charteris and Adam Jones adding much stability and leadership.
“We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off, 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.” said Wales coach Warren Gatland.
“We’ve almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare. Alun-Wyn will lead the side with Sam starting on the bench and he has come through training well,” added Gatland.
Wales host Italy in Cardiff on Saturday, KO 14:30 GMT (16:30 CAT)
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams.