Italy v New Zealand: All Blacks looking to bounce back in style
Last Updated: 12/11/16 1:59pm
Italy have the unenviable task of facing a smarting New Zealand side on Saturday in Rome.
After Ireland ended New Zealand's record breaking 18-match winning run in Chicago, a backlash is to be expected even if Steve Hansen has made 12 changes to the side that lost in America.
Regular captain Kieran Read has been rested with Sam Cane taking over the captaincy for the second time in his career, while Steven Luatua is handed his first Test start in two years at No 8.
Lock Scott Barrett and full-back Damian McKenzie will make their first full starts, while hooker Liam Coltman and outside back Rieko Ioane are in line to make their debuts off the bench as part of a squad with an average age of 25 and an average of 22 caps per player.
While the loss against Ireland was not part of New Zealand's touring plans, assistant coach Ian Foster said the side hasn't altered their approach to this fixture.
"Our belief has always been that we need a lot of freshness to get our performance right," said Foster.
"Coming off a loss that hurts. But it doesn't change our attitude about using the full resources of our squad to get through this tour.
"If you bring guys over (from New Zealand) you really want to give them an opportunity."
The Italians have never beaten New Zealand and their head coach Conor O'Shea has also named a relatively inexperienced side.
Treviso's Giorgio Bronzini is handed his international debut at scrum-half and is part of an untested half-back partnership with Carlo Canna.
Captain Sergio Parisse will add vital experience, the No 8 will win a record 120th cap in the back row, and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini gains his 82nd international appearance.
O'Shea knows exactly what he wants to see from his Italian side and brushed aside any view that he's 'experimenting' with this fixture.
"Our line-up isn't experimental at all, it's the best possible," O'Shea said. "Playing is the only way to get experience."
"What I want to see is a team which plays the best it can and never gives up. That's what I'm expecting. Today, we don't have much confidence in ourselves and that won't change in a night.
"I know we have a lot of potential in Italy. We have to break the circle of criticism which surrounds us, become more aware of our abilities. I want to see every player doing their own job on the pitch: It's not the result which matters, but the performance. In that sense Saturday's match is perfect for us."
New Zealand have scored four tries or more in their last 11 consecutive matches this year and will certainly be looking to match that in Rome on Saturday afternoon.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malaki Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Waisake Naholo, 19 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 1 Wyatt Crocket, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Scott Barrett, 6 Elliot Dixon, 7 Sam Cane (c), 8 Steven Luatua
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rieko Ioane
Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Maxime Mbanda, 7 Simone Favaro, 8 Sergio Parisse (c).
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 George Biagi, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Tommaso Boni.