Italy opt for experience

Jacques Brunel has named an experienced side as Italy look to put last year's winless campaign behind them against Ireland in Rome on Saturday.

Sergio Parisse will lead a side that boasts 660 Test caps and shows two changes from their last outing – the defeat to the Springboks in November.

George Fabio Biagi slots into the second row alongside Josh Furno, replacing Quintin Geldenhuys, while Francesco Minto replaces Samuela Vunisa at openside flank, with Alessandro Zanni completing the loose trio.

The backline remains unchanged, with New Zealand-born flyhalf Kelly Haimona making his first start in the Six Nations, where he will be partnered with the experienced Edoardo Gori.

Up front, Brunel has named an experienced front row, as Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Matias Aguero all start.

The Italians will be hoping for a repeat of Ireland's last visit to the Stadio Olimpico, when they claimed a 22-15 victory.

'Ireland are the tournament favourites, but two years ago we beat them and we hope to have the right attitude this time. And this is the start of a tournament, so anything can happen,' said Brunel.

'Two years ago we dominated the game, last year it was impossible to avoid their domination when all the statistics, like possession and tackles, were so negative. Something has to change and we will try to do so.'

Italy – 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 George Biagi, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Matias Aguero.
Subs: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Gulgielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti.

Photo: AFP Photo