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Warburton left out for Samoa clash
Sam Warburton has been left out of the Wales team for Friday night's Millennium Stadium clash against Samoa.
Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton, who captained Wales at the World Cup last autumn, and in their Grand Slam-winning RBS Six Nations campaign last season, is replaced by Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric.
With Warburton on the bench, back-row forward Ryan Jones takes over as skipper and leads Wales for a record 29th time, eclipsing the mark he previously held jointly with Ieuan Evans.
Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley has made eight changes from the side beaten 26-12 at home by Argentina last weekend, with starts for Tipuric, Jones, centre Ashley Beck, fly-half Dan Biggar, scrum-half Mike Phillips, prop Paul James, hooker Richard Hibbard and lock Bradley Davies.
Centre Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, is named in the starting XV after going off in the first-half against Argentina with what the Welsh Rugby Union described as mild concussion. Warburton, prop Gethin Jenkins, scrum-half Tavis Knoyle, fly-half Rhys Priestland and centre Scott Williams - who all started last Saturday - are on bench duty this time around.
Wales have traditionally made changes for the Friday night fixture of their autumn programme, and Howley was always going to assess an in-form Tipuric at some stage of the campaign. And with 31-year-old Jones comfortably the leading blindside alternative to long-term injury victim Dan Lydiate, Warburton's omission is perhaps not the surprise it has been highlighted as in some quarters.
Howley said: "In making changes, we also needed to bring in some genuine experience. It is important to have leaders throughout the team, and we are hoping the likes of Mike Phillips, who made a positive impact last week, can bring his experience to the side.
"Ryan reaches an impressive personal milestone. It will be a huge honour for him, but in the context of what happened last week his and the team's priorities are about producing a performance."
Wales team to play Samoa at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, 7.30pm: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), A Beck (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne). P James (Bath), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Jarvis (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), I Evans (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Toulon), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Perpignan), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), T Knoyle (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets).