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Italy make five changes for France after All Blacks hammering

By Josh Raisey
Paolo Garbisi of Italy looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand (All Blacks) and Italy at Groupama Stadium on September 29, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Italy have made five changes from the team that lost to the All Blacks last week for France this Friday in Lyon, with head coach Kieran Crowley opting to completely change the front-row.

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Loosehead prop Simone Ferrari, hooker Epalahame Faiva and tighthead Pietro Ceccarelli all come in to replace Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera and Marco Riccioni, respectively, with only Riccioni surviving on the bench. Loosehead Marco Manfredi and hooker Federico Zani are the other two front-row options among the substitutes.

While there is only one change in the backline – with Pierre Bruno replacing Luca Morisi – there has been a lot of shuffling by Crowley, with Ange Capuozzo shifting from the wing to fullback, Tommy Allan moving from fullback to fly-half and Paolo Garbisi moving from No10 to inside centre.

The remaining change sees second-row Niccolo Cannone replace Dino Lamb.

Following a disastrous performance last week against the All Blacks in Lyon, where the Azzurri lost 96-17, Crowley said his side’s focus has solely been on this week’s encounter. He said: “Our focus will be on our performance. We worked during the week thinking about our next commitment. We want to honour our identity as a team and try to take the next step.”

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
4
Draws
1
Wins
0
Average Points scored
38
13
First try wins
40%
Home team wins
40%

Italy XV
15 Ange CAPUOZZO (Stade Toulousain, 15 caps)
14 Pierre BRUNO (Zebre Parma, 14 caps)
13 Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 29 caps)
12 Paolo GARBISI (Montpellier, 30 caps)
11 Montanna IOANE (Lione, 24 caps)
10 Tommaso ALLAN (Perpignan, 78 caps)
9 Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester Rugby, 23 caps)
8 Lorenzo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 15 caps)
7 Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 32 caps) – capitano
6 Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 51 caps)
5 Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 48 caps)
4 Niccolò CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 35 caps)
3 Pietro CECCARELLI (Perpignan, 30 caps)
2 Epalahame FAIVA (svincolato, 9 caps)
1 Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 49 caps)

Replacements
16 Marco MANFREDI (Zebre Parma, 2 caps)
17 Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby, 24 caps)
18 Marco RICCIONI (Saracens, 25 caps)
19 David SISI (Zebre Parma, 29 caps)
20 Manuel ZULIANI (Benetton Rugby, 16 caps)
21 Alessandro FUSCO (Zebre Parma, 16 caps)
22 Luca MORISI (Zebre Parma, 49 caps)
23 Lorenzo PANI (Zebre Parma, 4 caps)

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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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