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Finger fracture rules star out of Italy's showdown with Wales

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ange Capuozzo will miss Italy’s attempt to avoid a ninth straight wooden spoon in the Six Nations after a finger fracture ruled him out of the Azzurri’s clash with Wales in Cardiff.

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Toulouse’s Capuozzo sits out Saturday’s final round fixture at the Millennium Stadium with the injury to the middle finger of his left hand, picked up during Italy’s historic win over Scotland last weekend.

Capuozzo was key to Italy winning the last time the two sides met in Cardiff two years ago, setting up Edoardo Padovani’s decisive late try.

“We tried to see if he could train with protection but he’s going to have an operation in France tomorrow [Friday],” Italy coach Gonzalo Quesada told reporters on Thursday.

Lorenzo Pani takes Capuozzo’s place at fullback while Harlequins wing Louis Lynagh, the son of Australian rugby great Michael Lynagh, gets his second cap for the country of his birth after scoring a try on his Test debut.

Lynagh scored the second of Italy’s three tries in a dramatic 31-29 victory over Scotland which was the Azzurri’s first home win in 11 years in the Six Nations.

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Italy are four points ahead of bottom-side Wales, making the fixture a shoot-out between the two teams to avoid finishing this year’s edition in last place.

The last time Italy won two matches in a Six Nations was in 2013.

“We have a good opportunity, but it’s going to be a tough match in a hostile atmosphere,” added Quesada.

“We’re playing against a rugby nation and a team in a difficult situation who will be very motivated as it is George North’s last match.”

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Italy: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Martin Page-Relo, 23 Leonardo Marin.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT; 15.15 CET)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Morné Ferreira (South Africa)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

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