Talismanic number 8 and skipper Sergio Parisse has been ruled out with a calf injury. It is a precautionary move and it is hoped he will be able to return against England.
Fellow back rower Alessandro Zanni (knee) is also unavailable, with his injury set to keep him out of action for four to six weeks.
With Mauro Bergamasco and Francesco Minto also on the injury list, Brunel has moved Joshua Furno from the second row to blindside flanker where he links up with Paul Derbyshire and Robert Barbieri, who reverts to number 8.
The half-backs have been swapped around with Luciano Orquera and Ospreys player Tito Tebaldi starting in place of Tommaso Allan and Edoardo Gori respectively.
There are some further switches among the replacements with prop Michele Rizzo, Antonio Pavanello, Manoa Vosawai and former Player of the Championship Andrea Masi gaining call-ups.
ITALY Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2014 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 8, kick-off 2.30pm):
15. Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso) 55
14. Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso) 2
13. Michele Campagnaro (Benetton Treviso) 5
12. Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre) 31
11. Leonardo Sarto (Zebre) 5
10. Luciano Orquera (Zebre) 39
9. Tito Tebaldi (Ospreys) 16
1. Alberto de Marchi (Benetton Treviso) 15
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso) 62
3. Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon) 104
4. Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre) 44
5. Marco Bortolami (Zebre) (capt) 102
6. Joshua Furno (Biarritz Olympique) 16
7. Paul Derbyshire (Benetton Treviso) 21
8. Robert Barbieri (Benetton Treviso) 33
16. Davide Giazzon (Zebre) 18
17. Michele Rizzo (Benetton Treviso) 13
18. Lorenzo Cittadini (Benetton Treviso) 30
19. Antonio Pavanello (Benetton Treviso) 22
20. Manoa Vosawai (Benetton Treviso) 13
21. Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso) 32
22. Tommaso Allan (Perpignan) 6
23. Andrea Masi (London Wasps) 80