Sergio Parisse fit as O’Shea changes 4 for Ireland

CAPTAIN SERGIO PARISSE has shaken off a neck injury to lead resurgent Italy into Saturday’s Six Nations clash against embattled Ireland in Rome.

Parisse was one of several injury concerns for coach Conor O’Shea following last week’s 33-7 defeat to Wales at the Stadio Olimpico but was named in the starting XV Thursday.

But after undergoing scans in midweek, the Stade Francais No 8 — inspirational for Italy in a thrilling first half last Sunday — has been declared match fit.

O’Shea, who made 35 appearances as a player for Ireland, made only four changes from the side that took a 7-3 lead into half-time against Wales at the Stadio Olimpico.

Angelo Esposito replaces Giulio Bisegni on the wing in the only change among the backs.

Simone Favaro, rested as a precaution against Wales, pushes Abraham Steyn on to the replacements bench to take his place in the third row alongside Maxime Mbanda and Sergio Parisse, who will captain the Azzurri for the 75th time on his 123rd appearance.

Dries Van Schalkwyk replaces George Biagi, who returns to the bench, to partner Marco Fuser in the second row while Leonardo Ghiraldini, a second-half substitute against Wales, replaces Ornel Gega at hooker.

O’Shea has kept faith with his half-back partnership of Edoardo Gori and Carlo Canna, while prop Andrea Lovotti, whose second-half yellow card last week allowed Wales to fight their way back into the game, will start alongside Ghiraldini and Lorenzo Cittadini in the front row.

Ireland travel to the Italian capital looking to make amends for an opening 27-22 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

Italy (v Ireland):

15. Edoardo Padovani
14. Angelo Esposito
13. Tommaso Benvenuti
12. Luke McLean
11. Giovanbattista Venditti
10. Carlo Canna
9. Edoardo Gori

1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini
3. Lorenzo Cittadini
4. Marco Fuser
5. Dries Van Schalkwyk
6. Maxime MBanda
7. Simone Favaro
8. Sergio Parisse (captain)


16. Ornel Gega
17. Sami Panico
18. Dario Chistolini
19. George Biagi
20. Abraham Steyn
21. Giorgio Bronzini
22. Tommaso Allan
23. Michele Campagnaro

Referee: Glen Jackson [NZR].

– © AFP, 2017

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