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Rugby: Italy to face Ireland without Parisse

Lock Bortolami to captain Azzurri in Dublin

06 March, 16:37
Rugby: Italy to face Ireland without Parisse (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, March 6 - Italy will face Ireland without their inspirational captain Sergio Parisse on Saturday after coach Jacques Brunel announced he was resting the number eight.

Lock Marco Bortolami, Parisse's predecessor as the regular captain, will skipper a much-changed side in Dublin, where the Azzurri are aiming for their first win of the 2014 Six Nations.

The decision to rest Parisse could suggest Brunel is focusing on saving a disappointing campaign by trying to notch a first-ever victory over England in his side's last match of the tournament in Rome next week.

But the French coach insisted his men are not already thinking of the England game, saying he wants them to take heart this weekend from last year's 22-15 win over Ireland at home.

"Ireland have improved, but we must not forget that we beat them last year and we do have a chance of winning," Brunel told a press conference.

"It'll certainly be a tough challenge, but we'll have to take the field with this memory in our heads.

"We don't have our mind on England already".

The coach said he was hopeful the absence of Parisse, who is being rested as a precautionary measure due to a calf strain, would not be felt too badly.

"Bortolami has a good understanding of the role of captain and I hope the other players take more responsibility," he said.

Brunel has made several changes after an error-strewn second half in last month's 21-20 defeat to Scotland, which the coach described as Italy's worst performance since he took over after the 2011 World Cup.

Robert Barbieri will replace Parisse at number eight.

Joshua Furno has been moved from the second row to blindside flanker to come in for Andrea Zanni, who will miss his first Italy match after 58 consecutive appearances because of a knee problem.

Dynamic loose forward Paul Derbyshire, who came on as a substitute against Scotland, takes the starting slot on the open side of the back row that Barbieri had last time out.

Brunel has also changed his half-back pairing.

Luciano Orquera replaces 20-year-old Tommaso Allan at flyhalf.

Tito Tebaldi returns from an absence of almost two years from the national team to start at scrumhalf in the place of Edoardo Gori.

Fullback Andrea Masi, one of Italy's best players, is back from injury and has been selected on the bench.

Prop Michele Rizzo is also among the replacements after serving a suspension for being sent off for fighting in a 30-10 defeat to France on February 9.

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi; 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Joshua Furno, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.

Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Andrea Masi.

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