Warburton could get early start for Wales
Sam Warburton could start Wales' Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday as he prepares to make his comeback from injury.
Warburton, sidelined for two months because of a shoulder problem, is currently on the replacements' bench with lock Alun-Wyn Jones taking over from him as captain.
But Racing Metro flanker Dan Lydiate left Wales' training base yesterday, flying back to Paris, where his fiancee is expecting the couple's first child.
If Lydiate is ruled out, then Warburton, who has not played since the autumn series finale against Australia on November 30, will be promoted to the starting line-up.
Coach Warren Gatland would also have no qualms about pitching him straight into the Test arena as Wales begin their bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of Six Nations titles.
Gatland's selection sees Rhys Priestland preferred to Dan Biggar for fly-half duties, Jamie Roberts returning in midfield after missing this season's autumn Tests, prop Paul James starting ahead of Gethin Jenkins and Luke Charteris filling the second-row vacancy left by suspended Ian Evans.