Italy stick to losing formula
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Italy coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged side to face Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday in Rome.
Buoyed by the Italians’ resilience in their 22-35 round two defeat to France in Paris, the interim head coach has kept faith with the same starting XV and has made just a single change to his bench.
Replacement Marco Lazzaroni comes in for Federico Ruzza in a reversal of the bench swop that occurred for the Stade de France match.
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“We have shown improvements against France. We want to make an important performance in front of our fans at the Stadio Olimpico showing everyone our game and our true potential,” said Smith.
The back three consists of Jayden Hayward and the two Padovans – Mattia Bellini and Matteo Minozzi – on the wing. Luca Morisi and Carlo Canna make up the midfield while the half-backs are Tommaso Allan and Callum Braley.
Smith’s back row is Abraham Steyn, Sebastian Negri and Jake Polledri. Rookie Niccolo Cannone maintains his fledgeling second-row partnership with Alessandro Zanni, while captain Luca Bigi joins Giosue Zilocchi and Andrea Lovotti in the front row.
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Matteo Minozzi, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Sebastian Negri, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Giosuè Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi (captain), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Giovanni Licata, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Giulio Bisegni
Date: Saturday, February 22
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.15 (14.15 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 20, 2020