Jacques Brunel brings in four new faces for trip to Paris

Italy coach hands out four first caps for opening game of his final Six Nations

With twelve new players in the squad could this be the Six Nations Championship where Italy shake off the long held notion that they are defined solely by star player Sergio Parisse? John O'Sullivan reports. Video: David Dunne

 

Italy will aim to kick-start a new era in earnest after fielding four debutants for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Front-row duo Andrea Lovotti and Ornel Gega, full-back David Odiete and wing Mattia Bellini will win their first Test caps at the Stade de France this weekend.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel will relinquish his role at the end of the tournament, with Harlequins’ Conor O’Shea poised to take the helm.

A blooding of the next generation has already begun, however, with 10 uncapped players in Italy’s tournament squad.

“It is up to us as experienced and senior players to guide them and help them reach the level quickly,” said Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

“It is important to bring new talent through all the time.

“We’ve had a few injuries and so there have been some new faces, but Jacques (Brunel) has been keen to move things along anyway.”

Wasps prop Lorenzo Cittadini gets the nod at tighthead prop over a refreshed Martin Castrogiovanni, who takes a seat on the bench.

Former Leicester prop Castrogiovanni missed the bulk of Italy’s disappointing World Cup campaign after a benign tumour was discovered in his back.

Long-serving number eight Parisse believes Italy still boast the ability to pull off victory in Paris — but only if they produce a near-flawless performance.

“We’ve got to be at 100 per cent to win games like this,” said Parisse.

“That hasn’t changed. We of course have belief in ourselves, but now we need to follow that through.”

Italy: D Odiete (Mogliano), L Sarto (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Exeter), G Garcia (Zebre), M Bellini (Padova), C Canna (Zebre), E Gori (Treviso), A Lovotti (Zebre), O Gega (Treviso), L Cittadini (Wasps), G Fabio Biagi (Zebre), M Fuser, F Minto, A Zanni (all Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: D Giazzon, M Zanusso (both Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Racing 92), V Bernabo, A Van Schalkwyk, G Palazzani, K Haimona (all Zebre), L McLean (Treviso).

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