There are no survivors from last year's Under-20 Grand Slam-winning side as the Elwood and Dan McFarland coaching ticket start with a fresh group of players for Friday's clash at Dubarry Park (live on RTE 2 at 7.35pm).
The side will be captained by open side Paul Ryan, who also skippered the Ireland team during the IRB Under-19 World Cup that was held in Belfast last year.
Commenting on this weekend's game, Elwood said: "The continuing cycle of underage rugby has meant that this year's squad are all totally new to this level, but they have pulled together extremely well over the last number of weeks in our camps and practice games.
"Playing Italy at any level offers a real physical challenge and this Friday will be no different. We have ability across the team, but our first goal is to gain a foothold in the game in the physical stakes and then progress from there.
"Playing at Dubarry Park and starting the championship there is another big plus for us with the great support we always receive in Athlone," he added.
IRELAND UNDER-20 TEAM AND REPLACEMENTS (v Italy, RBS U-20 6 Nations, Friday, February 1, Dubarry Park, kick-off 7.35pm):
15 - Niall Morris Blackrock College RFC/Leinster
14 - David Kearney Lansdowne/Leinster
13 - Eoin O'Malley Old Belvedere/Leinster
12 - Eamonn Sheridan Lansdowne/Leinster
11 - Chris Cochrane Queens University/Ulster
10 - Martin Dufficy Dublin University/Leinster
9 - David Moore Blackrock College RFC/Leinster
1 - Paul Karayiannis Queen's University/Ulster
2 - Stephen Douglas Ballymena/Ulster
3 - Ben Barclay UCD/Leinster
4 - David Nolan Galwegians/Connacht
5 - Eoin Sheriff Lansdowne/Leinster
6 - Kieran Essex UL Bohemians/Munster
7 - Paul Ryan Blackrock College RFC/Leinster (capt)
8 - Patrick Mallon Lansdowne/Leinster
16 - Jason Harris-Wright Greystones/Leinster
17 - Stephen Archer UCC/Munster
18 - James Sandford Queen's University/Ulster
19 - Ian Nagle UCC/Munster
20 - Kris Green St. Mary's College/Leinster
21 - Ian Madigan Blackrock College RFC/Leinster
22 - Sean Scanlon UCC/Munster
Manager: Phil Orr
Coach: Eric Elwood
Assistant Coach: Dan McFarland
2008 RBS UNDER-20 SIX NATIONS FIXTURES:
Ireland U-20 v Italy U-20, Friday, February 1, Dubarry Park, Athlone, 7.35pm (live RTE TV)
France U-20 v Ireland U-20, Friday, February 8, Stadium Jacques Fouroux, Auch, 6.30pm
Ireland U-20 v Scotland U-20, Friday, February 22, Dubarry Park, Athlone, 7.30pm
Ireland U-20 v Wales U-20, Friday, March 7, Dubarry Park, Athlone, 7.35pm (live RTE TV)
England U-20 v Ireland U-20, Friday, March 14, Kingsholm, Gloucester, 7.45pm