Warburton recovers from knee injury to lead Wales
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) Sam Warburton has recovered from a knee injury and will captain Wales in its attempt to complete a Six Nations Grand Slam against France on Saturday.
Warburton's recall at openside in place of Justin Tipuric was the only change announced Thursday to the team that set up the chance of a third Grand Slam in eight seasons with victory over Italy.
The same seven replacements were picked by coach Warren Gatland, so Tipuric misses out entirely.
"The magnitude of the game is not lost on us but it is irrelevant to how we prepare," Gatland said. "We have our captain back and, although Justin Tipuric is unlucky after playing well in his place last week, Sam's presence is a welcome boost to everyone."
France won a fourth straight match against Wales when the teams last met in New Zealand in last year's Rugby World Cup semifinals, with Warburton sent off early for a tip tackle.
Warburton was unlucky to be so heavily penalized and Wales lost 9-8, but Gatland said the players will not be thinking about previous history.
"We are obviously aware of what this game means to the fans," Gatland said. "Sixty-thousand of them came to the Millennium Stadium during the Rugby World Cup to watch us face France in the semifinal on the television screens and that tells you everything about how dedicated they are.
"But this weekend we play in front of a sell out 74,500 crowd with a chance to make history in Cardiff. They will be there to watch us in the flesh. They can make a real and positive contribution to the atmosphere and, like us, will be thinking of nothing other than the here and now."
Team: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Rhys Priestland, Michael Phillips; Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Luke Charteris, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.
Updated March 15, 2012