All change for Italy
March 10, 2011
Luciano Orquera has been given another chance at fly-half © Getty Images
Italy boss Nick Mallett has made seven changes to his side for their Six Nations meeting with France at the Stadio Flaminio on Saturday.
The Azzurri are without a win so far in this year's Championship following defeats to Ireland, England and Wales and Mallett has again shuffled his deck, including eight players in his starting XV that play their club rugby in France.
Racing Metro's Andrea Masi starts at fullback for the first time since February 2009, replacing Luke McLean, while Treviso's Gonzalo Garcia returns to the starting side after missing most of the last 12 months through injury. He takes Alberto Sgarbi's place at inside-centre, while Tommaso Benvenuti earns his first start in the tournament on the right wing.
Brive's Luciano Orquera replaces Kristopher Burton at fly-half and lock Quintin Geldenhuys drops to the bench, with Carlo Antonio Del Fava taking his place. Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni is the only player in Italy's front row to retain his spot following the defeat to Wales, with Racing Metro pair Andrea Lo Cicero and Carlo Festuccia coming into the side for Salvatore Perugini and Leonardo Ghiraldini respectively.
Italy's team manager Luigi Troiani admitted to reporters that the team selection was influenced by next week's likely Wooden Spoon decider against Scotland at Murrayfield but denied his side were essentially writing off this game.
"It's a choice made to give certain players a rest and also to freshen up the team and stimulate other players who up until now have had little space in the starting line-up," he said. "There are no first choice and second choice players, we have 30 to 34 players of a top level. Apart from one or two like (captain) Sergio Parisse who is indispensible, we have some good players but the others are of the same level.
"Playing Festuccia instead of Ghiraldini or Lo Cicero instead of Perugini doesn't mean anything, it's not a decision to not win. Giving the chance to players who didn't play last week gives them even more stimulus, and suggesting we're not trying to win is disrespectful to the players playing on Saturday."
Italy: A Masi (Racing Metro); T Benvenuti (Treviso), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), G Garcia (Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais); L Orquera (Brive), F Semenzato (Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), C Festuccia (Racing Metro), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), S Dellape (Racing Metro), C Del Fava (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais)
Replacements: L Ghiraldini (Treviso), S Perugini (Aironi), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), P Derbyshire (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), K Burton (Treviso), L McLean (Treviso)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker