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O’Shea Makes Four Changes To Italian Side

O’Shea Makes Four Changes To Italian Side

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea has made four changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations encounter with his native Ireland in Rome (kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time).

Following scans on his neck injury in midweek, number 8 Sergio Parisse has been passed fit to lead Italy into battle against Ireland this weekend. He will captain his country for the 75th time.

There are four personnel changes to the Azzurri side that lost 33-7 to Wales in the opening round, with Angelo Esposito’s inclusion on the right wing the only alteration to the back-line.

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Simone Favaro’s return at openside flanker sends Brahm Steyn back to the bench, while George Biagi makes way for his Zebre club-mate Dries van Schalkwyk in the second row.

Toulouse’s Leonardo Ghiraldini – the second most-capped player in the 23-man panel with 83 caps – gets the nod at hooker, combining in the front row with Andrea Lovotti, who was sin-binned in the second half against Wales, and Lorenzo Cittadini.

Former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea said: “We face a mountain to climb for 80 minutes, so I hope we’re ready for a big game this weekend. We need now to focus on what we can control, the details that make the difference.

“Discipline and attention to detail, particularly in the exits from our 22. We suffered here against Wales. It’s something we can control and therefore improve. It’s those little moments that change the energy of a match.

“Ireland is my home, my family, it’s the place where we spend the holidays. It’s the country where I grew up and where I always wanted to play. But now my only objective is Italian rugby. So I don’t think of Ireland but only of us, Italy.”

ITALY Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2017 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday, February 11, kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time):

Player/Club/Caps –
15. Edoardo Padovani (Zebre) 7
14. Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso) 8
13. Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso) 38
12. Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso) 85
11. Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre) 39
10. Carlo Canna (Zebre) 16
9. Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso) 57
1. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre) 10
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse) 83
3. Lorenzo Cittadini (Bayonne) 54
4. Marco Fuser (Benetton Treviso) 17
5. Dries van Schalkwyk (Zebre) 8
6. Maxime Mbanda (Zebre) 4
7. Simone Favaro (Glasgow Warriors) 33
8. Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais) (capt) 122


16. Ornel Gega (Benetton Treviso) 9
17. Sami Panico (Patarò Calvisano) 7
18. Dario Chistolini (Zebre) 15
19. George Biagi (Zebre) 15
20. Brahm Steyn (Benetton Treviso) 7
21. Giorgio Bronzini (Benetton Treviso) 4
22. Tommaso Allan (Benetton Treviso) 28
23. Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs) 26