12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
* The IRFU was the first of the Home Unions to officially award caps for tests against Italy. The first clash in 1988 saw the Irish triumph 31-15 on New Year's Eve in Dublin.
* Last year's 19-3 win in a Lansdowne gale, was Ireland's eighth victory over the Italians. All of the Azzurri's three successes in the series have arrived in friendlies.
* August 2003 saw Eddie O'Sullivan's men post the record for most tries and most points scored in the fixture. Denis Hickie notched a record four of Ireland's eight tries at Thomond Park, as the home side ran out 61-6 winners.
* Hickie thus has the most impressive strike rate against Italy - scoring five times in five appearances. He missed last March's clash due to an Achilles injury.
* One man who also missed that game was veteran scrum-half Alessandro Troncon. Incredibly the 31-year-old, nicknamed 'Tronky', could make a record tenth appearance against Ireland, if selected in Rome. The Treviso pivot, who made his international debut back in 1994, has recently returned from a long-term knee injury.
* Troncon was on the field when Italy chalked up their biggest wins - 37-29 and 37-22 results in both Dublin and Bologna, in 1997.
* Another man returning from the sidelines, Ronan O'Gara, holds the record for most points scored by an individual in the tie. The Munster out-half bagged 30 - a Six Nations record - in 2000's 60-13 win at Lansdowne Road. His haul of six penalties and six conversions beat out Paul Burke's 1997 best of 24.
* Sunday's meeting is the sides' sixth Six Nations clash. Ireland have won all previous five, outscoring Italy by 22 tries to seven in the process. Shane Horgan has scored four times in the Championship when coming up against the Azzurri.
2004 TEST FORM:
Italy: LLWLLLWWLW Results: 04: Lost 9-50 v England, Lost 0-25 v France, Won 20-14 v Scotland, Lost 3-19 v Ireland, Lost 10-44 v Wales, Lost 24-25 v Romania, Won 32-19 v Japan, Won 51-6 v Canada, Lost 10-59 v New Zealand, Won 43-25 v USA
* John Kirwan's side have won three of their last four tests, with last March's six-point win over Scotland - their only Six Nations success of the campaign - still living long in the memory.
Ireland: LWWWWLLWWW Results: 04: Lost 17-35 v France, Won 36-15 v Wales, Won 19-13 v England, Won 19-3 v Italy, Won 37-16 v Scotland, Lost 17-31 v South Africa, Lost 17-26 v South Africa, Won 17-12 v South Africa, Won 55-6 v USA, Won 21-19 v Argentina
* Eddie O'Sullivan's charges have won their last three tests and are also on a four-game unbeaten run in the Six Nations. However, they have lost three of their last four away games.
March 2000: Ireland 60 Italy 13 (Lansdowne Road) February 2001: Italy 22 Ireland 41 (Stadio Flaminio) March 2002: Ireland 32 Italy 17 (Lansdowne Road) February 2003: Italy 13 Ireland 37 (Stadio Flaminio) August 2003: Ireland 61 Italy 6 (Thomond Park) March 2004: Ireland 19 Italy 3 (Lansdowne Road)