(Reuters) - Italy made four changes to their team for the Six Nations match against Ireland in Rome on Saturday, with lock Andries Van Schalkwyk and flanker Simone Favaro, who were left out of the opener against Wales, set to return to the starting lineup.
Coach Conor O‘Shea, whose team were trounced 33-7 by Wales in Rome on Sunday, will also start Angelo Esposito on the right wing with Giulio Bisegni dropping out of the matchday squad.
“I‘m sure that this is the right group to move towards the future but in order to change mentality and improve we need to play, go through difficult moments and positive moments, earn experience,” O‘Shea, a former Ireland fullback, told the Italian rugby federation website (www.federugby.it) on Thursday.
“I know that in the next two or three years someone will laugh at and will not agree with me, but we’ll become a really effective squad.”
Leonardo Ghiraldini returns at hooker in place of Ornel Gega and will partner Andrea Lovotti and veteran Lorenzo Cittadini in the front row.
Maxime Mbanda, who came on as openside flanker for Simone Favaro against Wales, will start on the blindside against Ireland, leaving Abraham Steyn on the bench.
Italy team to play Ireland: Edoardo Padovani, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luke Mclean, Giovanbattista Venditti, Carlo Canna, Edoardo Gori, Sergio Parisse, Simone Favaro, Maxime Mbanda, Andries Van Schalkwyk, Marco Fuser, Lorenzo Cittadini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: Ornel Gega, Sami Panico, Dario Chistolini, George Biagi, Abraham Steyn, Giorgio Bronzini, Tommaso Allan, Michele Campagnaro.
Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdynia, editing by Ed Osmond