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Garbisi back as Italy name team with three changes to play Ireland

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Steve Bardens/Federugby via Getty Images)

Italy have made three changes to their starting team to face Ireland on Saturday in the Guinness Six Nations, including the recall of fit-again out-half Paolo Garbisi. Kieran Crowley’s side were beaten 14-31 in their last championship outing away to England on February 12 and the coach has reacted by sharpening the backline attack, switching tightheads and recalibrating the bench from a six/two forwards/split to a five/three divide.


The main talking point will be the selection of Garbisi, the Montpellier No10 who returned to action last weekend when coming off the Top 14 bench against Lyon. That was his first appearance since a December 30 club assignment at Bordeaux and he now takes the place of the benched Tommaso Allan, the out-half starter against both France and England.

Another backline change sees Pierre Bruno promoted from the subs with Luca Morisi dropping to the replacements. Bruno’s inclusion on the left wing has resulted in No11 Tommaso Menoncello switching to inside centre, the spot that Morisi occupied at Twickenham.

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Facing Goliath | A story following Italy as they take on the mighty All Blacks | A Rugby Originals Documentary
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Facing Goliath | A story following Italy as they take on the mighty All Blacks | A Rugby Originals Documentary

In the pack, Simone Ferrari, a sub in London, swaps places with Marco Riccioni and will wear No3 against an Irish side that faces a revised Italian bench. Crowley went with a six/two split versus England but that has now altered to five/three with out-half Allan included as the extra cover back at the expense of flanker Manuel Zuliani.

Another back-rower to miss out on this occasion is Jake Polledri, who made his first Test appearance for Italy since November 2020 when appearing off the Six Nations bench versus England. His place is taken by Giovanni Pettinelli.

Italy (vs Ireland, Saturday – 2:15pm)
15. Ange CAPUOZZO (Stade Toulousain, 9 caps)
14. Edoardo PADOVANI (Benetton Rugby, 42 caps)
13. Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
12. Tommaso MENONCELLO (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)
11. Pierre BRUNO (Zebre Parma, 9 caps)
10. Paolo GARBISI (Montpellier, 21 caps)
9. Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester Rugby, 18 caps)
1. Danilo FISCHETTI (London Irish, 27 caps)
2. Giacomo NICOTERA (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
3. Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 42 caps)
4. Niccolo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 27 caps)
5. Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 38 caps)
6. Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 42 caps)
7. Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 23 caps) – captain
8. Lorenzo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)


16. Luca BIGI (Zebre Parma 44 caps)
17. Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby, 18 caps)
18. Marco RICCIONI (Saracens Rugby, 18 caps)
19. Edoardo IACHIZZI (Vannes, 2 caps)
20. Giovanni PETTINELLI (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
21. Alessandro FUSCO (Zebre Parma, 7 caps)
22. Luca MORISI (London Irish, 41 caps)
23. Tommaso ALLAN (Harlequins, 68 caps)


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