Italy hand debut to winger Esposito for Wales game

Long injury list forces Jacques Brunel to make changes

 Tommaso Allan will start at outhalf for Italy in their  Six Nations opener away to Wales on Saturday. Photograph:  Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

Tommaso Allan will start at outhalf for Italy in their Six Nations opener away to Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

 

Treviso winger Angelo Esposito will make his international debut when Italy begin their Six Nations campaign with a daunting trip to Cardiff to take on holders Wales on Saturday.

With a lengthy injury list forcing his hand, coach Jacques Brunel has also given starts to centre Michele Campagnaro, winger Leonardo Sarto, outhalf Tommaso Allan and scrumhalf Edoardo Gori in a callow-looking backline.

Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco will become Italy’s longest serving player, overtaking Sergio Lanfranchi, but there is no place in the squad for his brother, Mirco.

Sergio Parisse will skipper the side after missing the last two games of the 2013 Six Nations through suspension.

Among those absent through injury are Wasps fullback Andrea Masi, Zebre wing Giovanbattista Venditti and La Rochelle centre Gonzalo Canale.

Italy, who won twice in last year’s championship but usually struggle on the road, have faced Wales 21 times, losing 17 and winning just twice in Rome. Their best result in Cardiff was an 18-18 draw in 2006.

ITALY (v Wales): Luke McLean (Treviso); Angelo Esposito (Treviso), Michele Campagnaro (Treviso), Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre); Tommaso Allan (Perpignan), Edoardo Gori (Treviso); Michele Rizzo (Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso), Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon); Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Marco Bortolami (Zebre); Alessandro Zanni (Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: Davide Giazzon (Zebre), Alberto De Machi (Treviso), Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso), Joshua Furno (Biarritz Olympique), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Tobias Botes (Treviso) Luciano Orquera (Zebre), Tommaso Iannone (Zebre).

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