• Sam Warburton has been named in Wales’ XV to face Italy
  • Warburton is among five changes to the team which defeated Ireland
  • Warren Gatland’s side face Uruguay on September 20 in World Cup opener

Nik Simon for MailOnline

Sam Warburton has overcome a shoulder injury that he thought would rule him out of the World Cup to captain Wales against Italy on Saturday.

The skipper is one of five changes to the team which beat Ireland, with Warren Gatland testing some new-look combinations as he fine-tunes his side for the ‘Group of Death’.

Despite being dropped from the final 31-man squad on Monday, hooker Kristian Dacey and flanker Ross Moriarty both provide cover from the bench after remaining in camp throughout the week.

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Wales captain Sam Warburton will start against Italy after shaking off a troublesome shoulder injury

Wales captain Sam Warburton will start against Italy after shaking off a troublesome shoulder injury

Warburton (left) sits next to head coach Warren Gatland as he announces his final World Cup squad

Warburton (left) sits next to head coach Warren Gatland as he announces his final World Cup squad

‘With our opening Rugby World Cup fixture just two weeks away, this weekend is important run-out and opportunity for fine tuning,’ said Gatland.

‘We were happy with the performance away from home in Ireland last weekend, but there are plenty of things we need to work on from that victory so we will be looking to put those in place on Saturday.

‘We’ve made a couple of changes to try a few new combinations and ensure players get some more game time under their belts.’

Bath target Toby Faletau and Osprey James King join Warburton in the back row, with locks Jake Ball and Dominic Day both coming into the engine room as Alun-Wyn Jones misses out with a knee injury.

Wales skipper Warburton had feared his World Cup dream was over after sustaining a shoulder injury

Wales skipper Warburton had feared his World Cup dream was over after sustaining a shoulder injury

Gatland takes a break from World Cup preparations to attend the T20 match between England and Australia

Gatland takes a break from World Cup preparations to attend the T20 match between England and Australia

With influential centre Jonathan Davies out of the World Cup, Gatland has also decided to test his midfield combinations by naming Scott Williams and Cory Allen together in the centres, at the expense of Jamie Roberts.

Paul James and Aaron Jarvis join Dacey to complete the front-row replacements, with Luke Charteris providing the final forward cover.

Drawing comparisons to Wales legend Shane Williams, supporters will be hoping to catch a glimpse of pint-sized back-three player Matthew Morgan. The youngster’s dazzling footwork could terrify English, Australian and Fijian defenders in Pool A and he completes the replacements alongside Gareth Davies and Rhys Priestland. 

WALES’ SQUAD TO FACE ITALY

Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), George North (Northampton), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Dominic Day (Bath), James King (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues) (Capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Bath), Matthew Morgan (Bristol). 

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