PADUA, Italy (Reuters) - Jayden Hayward will come into the Italy team at fullback in place of clubmate Luca Sperandio in the only change to take on Australia in their test on Saturday.
The New Zealand-born utility back missed this month’s tests against Ireland and Georgia because of a rib injury suffered in the PRO14 playing for Benetton.
The home side remain without injured captain Sergio Parisse, who won the last of his 134 caps against Scotland in March, and has been struggling with a calf injury.
Italy, who play world champions New Zealand in Rome next week, beat Georgia 28-17 in Florence last weekend but expect a much stiffer challenge from the Wallabies.
“Australia is a tough team to tackle,” said coach Conor O’Shea at a news conference on Thursday.
“We have worked well these days and for the first time since the start of the November test series we had a normal working week without long journeys.
“We know that playing our best rugby can put them in trouble. We have achieved an important victory against Georgia, but our focus from last Sunday has only been on the next opponent,” he said.
Team: 15-Jayden Hayward, 14-Tommaso Benvenuti, 13-Michele Campagnaro, 12-Tommaso Castello, 11-Mattia Bellini, 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Tito Tebaldi, 8-Braam Steyn, 7-Jake Polledri, 6-Sebastian Negri, 5-Dean Budd, 4-Alessandro Zanni, 3-Simone Ferrari, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1-Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16-Luca Bigi, 17-Cherif Traore, 18-Tiziano Pasquali, 19-Marco Fuser, 20-Johan Meyer, 21-Guglielmo Palazzani, 22-Carlo Canna, 23-Luca Morisi.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Hugh Lawson