Italy change five for Six Nations opener with Wales
Last Updated: 02/02/17 2:43pm
Edoardo Gori will form a half-back partnership with Carlo Canna as new-look Italy look to cause the first big upset of the Six Nations with a win over Wales in Rome on Sunday.
Italy coach Conor O'Shea made five changes - mostly in the pack - from the side that caused an historic upset over South Africa last November.
Treviso star Gori replaces Giorgio Bronzini at scrum-half, while Maxime Mata M'Banda will claim only his fourth cap for the Azzurri when he comes in for Simone Favaro in the back row.
Favaro is not named in the matchday squad.
Captain Sergio Parisse, winning his 122nd cap, will pack down with Zebre flanker M'Banda and Treviso's Abraham Steyn either side of him.
In the second row, Scotland-born Zebre lock George Biagi replaces Andries van Schalkwyk while another Zebre forward, prop Andrea Lovotti, replaces Sami Panico, who also drops to the bench.
Thirteen of the starting XV play their club rugby in Italy with either Treviso or Zebre, with Parisse (Stade Francais) and Lorenzo Cittadini (Bayonne) the exceptions.
Exeter back Michele Campagnaro, who has been in superb form for the Chiefs in recent weeks, starts the game at the Stadio Olimpico on the bench.
Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Edoardo Gori, 1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Ornel Gega, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 George Biagi, 6 Abraham Steyn, 7 Maxime Mata M'Banda, 8 Sergio Parisse
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Josh Furno, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Michele Campagnaro