Italy opt for new half-back pairing in Ireland


Rome (AFP)

Italy coach Jacques Brunel injected new blood into his side ahead of Saturday's Six Nations game against Ireland by naming an inexperienced half-back pairing of Edoardo Padovani and Guglielmo Palazzani.

Fly-half Padovani, 22, comes in for his first start after two appearances off the bench in this year's competition and will line up alongside scrum-half and Zebre team-mate Palazzani this weekend.

The 24-year-old Palazzani has played 18 times for Italy but started on just three occasions, however, Brunel is keen to mix things up after seeing his side lose their first three Six Nations matches.

Palazzani replaces the injured Edoardo Gori while Padovani takes the place of Kelly Haimona, who drops to the bench after a disappointing display in Italy's 36-20 defeat against Scotland last time out.

Brunel made two other changes to his starting XV, with injured lock Josh Furno (back) and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini (shoulder) making way for George Biagi and Davide Giazzon.

"It will be a difficult match. Ireland are like us and still searching for their first win of the tournament, and they too must cope with numerous absentees," said Brunel, whose side are hoping to avoid the wooden spoon.

Italy (15-1)

David Odiete; Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Mattia Bellini; Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani; Sergio Parisse (capt) Alessandro Zanni, Francesco Minto; Marco Fuser, George Biagi; Lorenzo Cittadini, Davide Giazzon, Andrea Lovotti


Oliviero Fabiani, Matteo Zanusso, Dario Chistolini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Abraham Steyn, Alberto Lucchese, Kelly Haimona, Luke McLean