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Italy name team to face France

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Franco Smith has made just one change to his Italian starting side to face France away on Sunday. 


The new Azzurri boss opted not to make wholesale changes following last weekend 42-0 beating at Wales. 

His only switch comes at full-back where Jayden Hayward has been promoted from the bench, an inclusion that has resulted in a back three rejig.

Matteo Minozzi, last weekend’s starting full-back, switches to the left wing where the No11 versus Wales, Mattia Bellini, now switches across to No14 with Leonardo Sarto losing his spot and dropping out of the matchday 23. 

Giulio Bisegni takes Hayward’s place on the bench while Federico Ruzza steps in for Marco Lazzaroni.

(Continue reading below…)

Freddie Burns discusses the selection issues that England have faced this week

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Alessandro Zanni’s selection in the second row will be his 119th Test level appearance, drawing him level with Italy’s second most capped player, Martin Castrogiovanni, in the all-time Italian classification.


“The debut against Wales served as a lesson,” said Smith after unveiling his XV following a full week’s preparation in Paris. 

“Let’s look forward now to the work done this week. We are trying to improve our mechanisms and trying to show the best version of ourselves. It will be a tough game on Sunday that we will play with greater awareness.”

ITALY (vs France, Sunday)

15. Jayden HAYWARD (Benetton Rugby, 24 caps)

14. Mattia BELLINI (Zebre Rugby Club, 23 caps)

13. Luca MORISI (Benetton Rugby, 30 caps)*

12. Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby Club, 40 caps)

11. Matteo MINOZZI (Wasps Rugby, 17 caps)*

10. Tommaso ALLAN (Benetton Rugby, 55 caps)


9. Callum BRALEY (Gloucester Rugby, 6 caps)

8. Abraham STEYN (Benetton Rugby, 37 caps)

7. Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 23 caps)

6. Jake POLLEDRI (Gloucester Rugby, 14 caps)

5. Niccolò CANNONE (Argos Petrarca Rugby/Benetton Rugby,1 cap)*

4. Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Rugby, 118 caps)

3. Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Zebre Rugby Club, 3 caps)*

2. Luca BIGI (Zebre Rugby Club, 25 caps) – captain

1. Andrea LOVOTTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 41 caps)*


16. Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby 14 caps)

17. Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 1 cap)*

18. Marco RICCIONI (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)*

19. Dean BUDD (Benetton Rugby, 27 caps)

20. Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 18 caps)*

21. Giovanni LICATA (Zebre Rugby Club, 9 caps)*

22. Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 37 caps)

23. Giulio BISEGNI (Zebre Rugby Club, 14 caps)

WATCH: The Rugby Pod previews the weekend’s round two Guinness Six Nations matches  

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Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

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