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O’Shea Adds Benetton Trio To Italy Pack

O’Shea Adds Benetton Trio To Italy Pack

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea have sought to freshen up his forwards for Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations tussle with Ireland, bringing in front rowers Nicola Quaglio and Luca Bigi, as well as flanker Braam Steyn.

With Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Renato Giammarioli all making way, there are three changes in personnel compared to the side that ended up as 46-15 losers to defending champions England in Rome last Sunday.

Braam Steyn returns to the starting XV, in place of the 22-year-old Giammaroili at openside flanker, while his Benetton Rugby colleagues Nicola Quaglio and Luca Bigi feature in a front row which contains just 19 caps. It will be Quaglio’s first international start and a first run-on appearance for both the loosehead and hooker in the Six Nations.

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Captain Sergio Parisse, who plays his club rugby with Stade Francais, is the odd one out in a pack dominated by Benetton players. Tommaso Benvenuti and Mattia Bellini – the Azzurri’s two try scorers against England – continue in a back-line which is without Dublin-born former Leinster out-half Ian McKinley, who was unable to dislodge Tommaso Allan or Carlo Canna.

Head coach Conor O’Shea explained: “The romance is there but Ian is not here to be picked on romance. He has been unbelievable for us this week, he is pushing things on. He is here for a reason and he may still have to come on and do a job if things go wrong.

“He was disappointed because he wanted to play. I knew it would mean a lot to him. But he is a rugby player, not a story and he wants to be picked because he is the number one player and not the story. Sport is full of romance but the hard-nosed side of it is the guy who has the jersey is playing well and the next guy in is a points machine.

“I would have loved to pick him, I wanted to pick him in so many ways but what message does that send to other players? It’s an amazing story, he is a force of nature. I’m sure this setback will steel him even further and given the way he has responded to set-backs in the past, I am sure he will respond.”

The former Ireland international added: “If Ireland play to their potential tomorrow and we play to ours, Ireland win, full stop. If I was sitting here with the players in front of me, and I told them we’d charge over the barricades and win the match, they’d laugh at me.

“I want them to go out and play the best game they can, and what happens happens. We’ll play the game, we’ll give it everything we’ve got, then we’ll dust ourselves down, and keep on this journey we’re on. We want to do something special in the short-term with this group over the next two years.”

ITALY Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, February 10, kick-off 2.15pm):

Player/Club/Caps –

15. Matteo Minozzi (Zebre) 4
14. Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Rugby) 46
13. Tommaso Boni (Zebre) 9
12. Tommaso Castello (Zebre) 6
11. Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 9
10. Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby) 34
9. Marcello Violi (Zebre) 9
1. Nicola Quaglio (Benetton Rugby) 3
2. Luca Bigi (Benetton Rugby) 7
3. Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby) 9
4. Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Rugby) 100
5. Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby) 7
6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby) 3
7. Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 17
8. Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais) (capt) 130


16. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse) 90
17. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre) 2
18. Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby) 3
19. Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby) 3
20. Maxime Mbanda (Zebre) 12
21. Edoardo Gori (Benetton Rugby) 55
22. Carlo Canna (Zebre) 26
23. Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby) 4