Six Nations: Rees-Zammit drops to Wales bench as Gatland sends message before Italy test
Warren Gatland told Wales to "be brave" as he made six changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Six Nations tussle with fellow strugglers Italy.
The match in Rome, a likely Wooden Spoon decider, will see Rhys Webb make his first Test start since October 2020, stepping in at scrum-half to replace Tomos Williams.
Rio Dyer replaces wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who Gatland backed to be a useful impact replacement, with full-back Liam Williams also coming in.
Dafydd Jenkins, Jac Morgan and Wyn Jones come into the pack, with former captain Alun Wyn Jones among those missing out.
After defeats to Ireland, Scotland and England, head coach Gatland is determined Wales give a better account of themselves against the Azzurri at Stadio Olimpico.
Gatland said: "We feel that having watched Italy and how they'll tend to play from everywhere, including their own 22, getting guys on the ball is going to be pretty important.
"We've been disappointed with the results so far and for me it's hard to take as it's the first time I've lost three games in the Six Nations with Wales. We've had a lot of things going on off the field as well, but there are no excuses.
"The message to the players has been that we have to be smart in terms of the way we play, but we've also got to be brave and make sure that when the opportunities are on we shift the ball. We have to keep scanning and looking at options and if there's a chance to move the ball then be brave and do that."
Italy: Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Padovani, Juan Ignacio Brex,Tommaso Menoncello, Pierre Bruno, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannon, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (captain), Lorenzo Cannon.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi.
Wales: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Mason Grady, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer, Owen Williams, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Rhys Davies, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit.