Milan – Italy coach Jacques Brunel said he believes his side can cause an upset and beat France in their Six Nations clash on Sunday, if the visitors to the Stade de France “play to their full potential”.
Italy caused a minor sensation by beating France 23-18 in Rome last year, a result which set the stage for the Azzurri's eventual fourth place finish in the tournament.
After giving Wales a scare on their way to a battling 23-15
defeat at the Millennium Stadium last week, Brunel believes his side must build on their momentum.
“France are dangerous simply because of their past record, their history, including being World Cup finalists last time out,” the Frenchman told media on Friday.
“But I'm hoping we can look to last year's win in Rome for inspiration and that we can play to our full potential. If we play as I know we can, we have every chance of beating France.”
Brunel's starting side against Wales contained a mixture of youth and experience among the backs alongside a pack which has immense experience playing together.
However in a bid to foster “internal competition” for places, Brunel has made minor changes ahead of meeting a France side which snatched victory from England (26-24) in the French capital last week having held a half-time lead of 16-8.
Michele Campagnaro, 20, scored two tries against Wales and keeps his place at centre.
Inside centre Alberto Sgarbi, however, drops to the bench in place of Gonzalo Garcia, with Tommaso Iannone returning to right wing in place of Angelo Esposito, who made his debut in Cardiff last week.
In the pack Francesco Minto comes in at blindside flanker, pushing Alessandro Zianni on to the bench, while Joshua Furno, a late replacement last week, replaces Marco Bortolami (bench) to join Quintin Geldenhuys at second row.
Brunel also tweaked the front row, with loosehead prop Alberto De Marchi coming in for Michele Rizzo, who drops to the bench.
Both Parisse and tight-head prop Martin Castrogiovanni will equal the national record of 103 caps held by retired prop Andrea Lo Cicero.
Italy team announced on Friday to play France in a Six Nations international at the Stade de France on Sunday (1700GMT kick-off):
Luke McLean; Tommaso Iannone; Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Leonardo Sarto; Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Mauro Bergamasco, Francesco Minto; Joshua Furno, Quintin Geldenhuys; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Alberto De Marchi
Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Michele Rizzo, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Tobias Botes, Luciano Orquera, Angelo Esposito. – Sapa-AFP