Six Nations 2015: Italy name two debutants in team to face Scotland
Zebre wing Michele Visentin and Benetton Treviso centre Enrico Bacchin set for debuts as Jacques Brunel makes six changes
Michele Visentin and Enrico Bacchin will make their international debuts against Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations.
Head coach Jacques Brunel has made six changes from the side that lost 47-17 to England at Twickenham on 14 January.
We decided to pick Bacchin who, at the beginning of the season, played more frequently with Morisi.
Winger Visentin (pictured above) comes in on the right wing for Zebre team-mate Leonardo Sarto, while Benetton Treviso centre Bacchin joins his club team-mate Luca Morisi in the midfield, lining up at inside centre, after Wasps’ utility-back Andrea Masi suffered a calf tear while on club duty last weekend.
Despite the indifferent form of Zebre outside-half Kelly Haimona, Brunel has opted to keep faith the New Zealand-born powerhouse at 10 for his sixth successive cap since making his debut in November, ignoring some calls to consider shifting him to the midfield, where his strength has proved effective.
That means Vicenza-born former Scotland U20 international Tommaso (Tommy) Allan starts on the bench.
“We have a backline with a lot of inexperience and we have had to deal with some injuries,” said Brunel.
“We started the tournament with [Michele] Campagnaro and Morisi as our centres and after Michele was injured we gave the spot to Masi who has experience in the role.
“We called up [22-year-old Moligano centre] Tommaso Boni who has made a good start to the season and will be especially key in the future.
“Now that Masi is injured as well, we decided to pick Bacchin who, at the beginning of the season, played more frequently with Morisi.
“We believe he is the most logical choice.”
Up front, Brunel has been forced to make a change at tighthead prop with Martin Castrogiovannie ruled out after requiring 14 stitches to a nose bite from a friend’s dog, so Zebre’s Dario Chistolini comes into the front row with club team-mate Matías Agüero preferred to Alberto de Marchi at loosehead prop.
In the second row, Scotland-born George Biagi continues while Newcastle Falcons lock Joshua Furno replaces centurion Marco Bortolami, who misses out with a leg problem.
The only change in the back row sees Glasgow Warriors-bound flanker Simone Favaro replace Mauro Bergamasco, with Francesco Minto switching to the blindside and Favaro lining up at openside.
With both countries losing their opening two rounds of the championship, the match is already seen as a wooden spoon decider, with the odds very much in Scotland’s favour.
Italy’s only away win in the championship came at BT Murrayfield in 2007 as they left Edinburgh with an impressive 37-17 win.
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter names his team on Thursday afternoon.
Italy: Luke McLean (Sale Sharks); Michele Visentin (Zebre Rugby), Luca Morisi (Benetton Treviso), Enrico Bacchin (Benetton Treviso), Giovambattista Venditti (Zebre Rugby); Kelly Haimona (Zebre Rugby), Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso); Matías Agüero (Zebre Rugby), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Leicester Tigers), Dario Chistolini (Zebre Rugby), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre Rugby), Joshua Furno (Newcastle Falcons), Francesco Minto (Benettton Treviso), Simone Favaro (Benetton Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, captain).
Replacements: Andrea Manici (Zebre Rugby), Alberto de Marchi (Sale Sharks), Lorenzo Cittadini (Wasps), Marco Fuser (Benetton Treviso), Samuela Vunisa (Zebre Rugby), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre Rugby), Tommaso Allan (Perpignan), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre Rugby).