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Zanni to win 100th cap as inexperienced Italy face England

By Nicholas McGee
Alessandro Zanni wins a lineout

Italy have selected seven Six Nations debutants for their opening match at home to England on Sunday, when lock Alessandro Zanni will win his 100th cap.

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Head coach Conor O’Shea has opted to field an inexperienced starting XV at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, with nine players having won 10 caps or less.

Fullback Matteo Minozzi, centres Tommaso Boni and Tommaso Castello, forwards Dean Budd, Simone Ferrari and back row pair Sebastian Negri and Renato Giammarioli will all feature in tournament for the first time.

Zanni, meanwhile, last played for Italy in March 2016 against Wales.

Though the side is lacking experience, there will be a familiar face at captain, with Sergio Parisse set to skipper the side for an 83rd Test match.

Italy XV: Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Allan, Marcello Violi; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Alessandro Zanni, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Renato Giammarioli, Sergio Parisse (captain).

Substitutes: Luca Bigi, Nicola Quaglio, Tiziano Pasquali, George Biagi, Maxime Mbanda, Edoardo Gori, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward.

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Jones and Hartley look ahead to Natwest 6 Nations opener with Italy

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M
Morne 8 minutes ago
Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Some further observations: Most Rugby lovers I know agree that the AB’s have been the gold standard for as long as anyone can remember - very few people disagree. The odd time that any other team has some sort of ascendency - there are always those (albeit the minority) NZ supporters that need to remind us of the AB’s glorious gold standard that anyone winning them is only down to a mixture of pure luck or some or other sinister reason or bias from match officials (or indeed the Universe). For reasons mentioned above, any other team with some ascendency over the AB’s (even if it is the 1st time in 100 years) may not receive a pat on the back and a well-done - as they only did so out of pure luck. In my opinion, if the Boks were in the same realm as the AB’s SF opponents - they would have been smashed also - whether with 14 or 13 or 12 players. But remember they were just “lucky”. As a Bok supporter, I will say this team has done our proud - despite losing some games along the way. Like the AB’s, the games the boks lose are 9/10 times one score games - this is a long way from hidings like 57 - 0…And in that we must be proud. Most of these type of articles - especially those focusing on the RWC final rather conveniently leave out any mention of Pieter Steph du Toit, or even Eben Etzebeth who won all their collusions all day long. So to those very very few bad loser AB supporters out there (definitely the minority) - I’ll say what you want to hear - the AB’s are without any doubt the best Rugby brand ever. They have consistently achieved what all other teams can only dream of. And no doubt they will scale those heights again. Now what about allowing others the odd ray of sunlight that comes our way?

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