Italy coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged side to face Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday in Rome. 

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Buoyed by the Italians’ resilience in their 22-35 round two defeat to France in Paris, the interim head coach has kept faith with the same starting XV and has made just a single change to his bench. 

Replacement Marco Lazzaroni comes in for Federico Ruzza in a reversal of the bench swop that occurred for the Stade de France match. 

“We have shown improvements against France. We want to make an important performance in front of our fans at the Stadio Olimpico showing everyone our game and our true potential,” said Smith.

The back three consists of Jayden Hayward and the two Padovans – Mattia Bellini and Matteo Minozzi – on the wing. Luca Morisi and Carlo Canna make up the midfield while the half-backs are Tommaso Allan and Callum Braley.

Smith’s back row is Abraham Steyn, Sebastian Negri and Jake Polledri. Rookie Niccolo Cannone maintains his fledgeling second row partnership with Alessandro Zanni, while captain Luca Bigi joins Giosue Zilocchi and Andrea Lovotti in the front row.

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ITALY (vs Scotland, Saturday)

15 Jayden HAYWARD (Benetton Rugby, 25 caps)

14 Mattia BELLINI (Zebre Rugby Club, 24 caps)

13 Luca MORISI (Benetton Rugby, 31 caps)*

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12 Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby Club, 41 caps)

11 Matteo MINOZZI (Wasps Rugby, 18 caps)*

10 Tommaso ALLAN (Benetton Rugby, 56 caps)

9 Callum BRALEY (Gloucester Rugby, 7 caps)

8 Abraham STEYN (Benetton Rugby, 38 caps)

7 Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 24 caps)

6 Jake POLLEDRI (Gloucester Rugby, 15 caps)

5 Niccolò  CANNONE (Argos Petrarca Rugby/Benetton Rugby,2 caps)*

4 Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Rugby, 118 caps)

3 Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Zebre Rugby Club, 4 caps)*

2 Luca BIGI (Zebre Rugby Club, 26 caps) – capt

1 Andrea LOVOTTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 42 caps)*

Replacements: 

16 Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby 15 caps)

17 Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 2 caps)*

18 Marco RICCIONI (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)*

19 Marco LAZZARONI (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)*

20 Dean BUDD (Benetton Rugby, 28 caps)

21 Giovanni LICATA (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps)*

22 Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 38 caps)

23 Giulio BISEGNI (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)

WATCH: Jim Hamilton and Darren Cave give their predictions for Saturday’s Stadio Olimpico clash

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