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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.

Video Spacer

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

Video Spacer

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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Jon 59 minutes ago
Buoyant England travel to New Zealand full of hope but are they walking into an All Blacks ambush?

> New head coach Scott Robertson has kept only forwards coach Jason Ryan and conditioning coach Nic Gill from the previous regime *and so there is little institutional knowledge inherent in the new team.* Shows you what the English know about sport. Isn’t just fantastic that the best rugby team, or brand, on the planet has three brothers playing together? One a bull, the other a dancer, and last a .. boxer? Looks like a boxer bless him. > But Robertson has been working to fix that issue, with senior players and coaches having been regularly meeting to work out how they will operate together both on and off the field to ensure there is strong decision-making and a deep understanding of how the team wants to play. Have they? I would suggest then it is not a case of fixing things, that is not what Razor does. Razor will evolve the relationship between player and coach into a more symbiotic relationship. This wont be a coach that shouts down at his players theyre not doing good enough. I can imagine one of the first key areas he will be implementing is the respective leadership for each coaching group. Tight five, Loosies, Halves, Centers, and Back Three, will each have their own leadership team and an agile approach to the playing group relaying what they believe is happening on the training paddock, and in games. It will be a very big step to get everyone involved, able, and thinking about contributing to that process, but I believe a very beneficial one if successful. > England may have their best chance to win in 21 years, but they may also be walking into an ambush – *about to be hit* by a young, gifted, supremely physical and athletic All Blacks team coached by a man who has made every post a winner so far in his career and has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of people. Or, by a group hurting from not getting over the line and proving to everyone they are the best in the world, full of experience and cohesion, grit and motivation. You only need to look at someone like Patrick Tuipulotu to see someone with a fire under his belly from missing out on the last RWC due to injury, and having lost to this opposition in the previous one. It will be very interesting to see how this ‘Razor’ plays it. Does he stick with the traditional and protect the time honored All Black values of commitment, or does he evolve and pick the best players to win the Rugby Championship - and by association this test series - like Akira Ioane?

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FEATURE Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it