Italy have made six changes to the starting team to face France on Saturday in the opening round of the Guinness Six Nations, five of those alterations coming in the pack following their fifth-place Autumn Nations Cup defeat to Wales at Llanelli last time out in December.
There is just a single switch in the backline for the Garibaldi Trophy match, the uncapped Juan Ignacio Brex getting chosen for his Test debut in the midfield in place of Carlo Canna.
The other six players chosen in the backline, including Monty Ioane who debuted in Wales, have a total of 24 caps between them, highlighting the evolution in the selection that is taking place under Franco Smith who took charge for the first time last February.
In the pack, only Johan Meyer, Marco Lazzaroni and Luca Bigi remain as starters from the defeat to Wales and Smith has rung multiple changes, including giving No8 Michele Lamaro a first Test start after two appearances off the bench.
“We will face with courage a France team that showed its qualities during the last Six Nations and the Nations Cup,” said Smith, who is looking to deliver Italy their first win in a Six Nations match since 2015. “We follow our growth process to continue introducing the new generations.”
'My dad called me before my first game and told me Digby called and was crying'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 31, 2021
ITALY (vs France, Saturday)
15 Jacopo TRULLA (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 3 caps)
14 Luca SPERANDIO (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)
13 Marco ZANON (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)
12 Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, uncapped)
11 Montanna IOANE (Benetton Rugby, 1 cap)
10 Paolo GARBISI (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)
9 Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester Rugby, 3 caps)
8 Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
7 Johan MEYER (Zebre Rugby Club, 9 caps)
6 Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 28 caps)
5 David SISI (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps)
4 Marco LAZZARONI (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps)
3 Marco RICCIONI (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps)
2 Luca BIGI (Zebre Rugby Club, 32 caps) – capt
1 Cherif TRAORE (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
16 Gianmarco LUCCHESI (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
17 Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 8 caps)
18 Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps)
19 Niccolò CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)
20 Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 19 caps)
21 Maxime MBANDA (Zebre Rugby Club, 25 caps)
22 Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 41 caps)
23 Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby Club, 47 caps)
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 4, 2021
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now