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Italy make three changes for Wales with Ange Capuozzo ruled out

By Josh Raisey
A dejected Ange Capuozzo #15 of Italy during the Ireland V Italy, Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva Stadium on February 11, 2024, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Italy have made three changes from the team that defeated Scotland last weekend for their Wooden Spoon decider against Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday in round five of the Guinness Six Nations.

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Fullback Ange Capuozzo is a notable absence from the team, two years after creating Italy’s match-winning try against Wales at the same venue. The Toulouse fullback broke his finger in the 31-29 win over Scotland in Rome.

Lorenzo Pani comes back into the squad to wear the No15 jersey in place of the injured Capuozzo.

There is one other change in the back line, with scrum-halves Stephen Varney and Martin Page-Relo swapping roles from last week, with the former starting in Cardiff. Page-Relo joins Leonardo Marin as one of two backs among the substitutes, as Gonzalo Quesada has opted for a 6-2 split.

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No8 Lorenzo Cannone retakes his place in the starting XV, with the Exeter Chiefs’ Ross Vintcent dropping to the bench. Cannone missed rounds two and three of the Championship with a knee injury, but returned to the bench last weekend.

Following a 13-13 draw with France in round three and their win over Scotland in round four, Italy head into the match with a lot of confidence, particularly when considering they won this fixture two years ago.

Fixture
Six Nations
Wales
21 - 24
Full-time
Italy
All Stats and Data

The Azzurri have a four-point lead over Warren Gatland’s side in the standings, and a superior points difference of eleven points. That means they can still lose the match and avoid receiving the Wooden Spoon, providing they do not give Wales any bonus points and stay within eleven points.

A losing bonus point will guarantee Italy do not finish at the foot of the table, regardless of how many tries Wales score.

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Italy XV
15 Lorenzo PANI (Zebre Parma, 7 caps)
14 Louis LYNAGH (Harlequins, 1 cap)
13 Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 34 caps)
12 Tommaso MENONCELLO (Benetton Rugby, 16 caps)
11 Monty IOANE (Lyon29 caps)
10 Paolo GARBISI (Toulon, 35 caps)
9 Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester, 28 caps)
8 Lorenzo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 18 caps)
7 Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 37 caps) – cap
6 Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 54 caps)
5 Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 53 caps)
4 Niccolò CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 40 caps)
3 Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 52 caps)
2 Giacomo NICOTERA (Benetton Rugby, 22 caps)
1 Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Parma, 40 caps)

Replacements
16 Gianmarco LUCCHESI (Benetton Rugby, 21 caps)
17 Mirco SPAGNOLO (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)
18 Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
19 Andrea ZAMBONIN (Zebre Parma, 7 caps)
20 Ross VINTCENT (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)
21 Manuel ZULIANI (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
22 Martin PAGE-RELO (Lyon, 7 caps)
23 Leonardo MARIN (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)

Six Nations Six Nations
Six Nations Greatest XV
Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll
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J
Jon 22 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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