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Odogwu to debut as Italy name strong side to face Ireland

By Ian Cameron
Stade Francais' English wing Paolo Odogwu runs with the ball during the French Top14 rugby union match between Stade Rochelais (La Rochelle) and Stade Francais at The Marcel-Deflandre Stadium in La Rochelle, western France on May 28, 2023. (Photo by XAVIER LEOTY / AFP) (Photo by XAVIER LEOTY/AFP via Getty Images)

Coach Kieran Crowley has officially announced the line-up for the Italian men’s rugby team ahead of their showdown with Ireland on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.


This match will mark the 36th encounter between the two teams, with both sides gearing up for the Rugby World Cup 2023. Paolo Odogwu and Dino Lamb will debut in the Azzurri shirt as new rookies in the starting line-up.

Experienced players Monty Ioane and Tomasso Allan return, while Paolo Garbisi and Stephen Varney team-up at halfback. The back row features Toa Halafihi, Manuel Zuliani and Sebastian Negri, while Juan Ignacio Brex and Tommaso Menoncello form a tried and tested pairing in the centres. Federico Ruzza returns as captain in the second line alongside rookie Lamb. Giacomo Riccioni, Marco Nicotera, and Danielo Fischetti complete the front row.

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The eagerly-awaited encounter will be officiated by French referee Raynal. Coach Kieran Crowley said: ““The match against Ireland will be a new, important test in preparation for the World Cup. Other players will have the chance to play a top-level international Test Match facing the world’s first-ranked team. The focus will be on our performance”

Team Line-Ups:
15 Tommaso Allan (Perpignan, 72 caps)
14 Paolo Odogwu (Benetton Rugby, esordiente)
13 Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 23 caps)
12 Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps)
11 Montanna Ioane (Lione, 18 caps)
10 Paolo Garbisi (Montpellier, 24 caps)
9 Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 19 caps)
8 Toa Halafihi (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
7 Manuel Zuliani (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps)
6 Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 46 caps)
5 Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 42 caps) – Capitano
4 Dino Lamb (Harlequins, esordiente)
3 Marco Riccioni (Saracens, 21 caps)
2 Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)
1 Danilo Fischetti (Zebre Parma, 31 caps)

16 Luca Bigi (Zebre Parma, 46 caps)
17 Paolo Buonfiglio (Zebre Parma, esordiente)
18 Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby, 44 caps)
19 Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 30 caps)
20 Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 26 caps)
21 Lorenzo Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
22 Alessandro Fusco (Zebre Parma, 13 caps)
23 Lorenzo Pani (Zebre Parma, 1 cap)


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1 Comment
Lucio 322 days ago

Italy win by 1

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Flankly 9 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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