MILAN – Flank Giovanni Licata will make his first start for Italy as Irish coach Conor O’Shea made two changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Test against South Africa in Padova.
Licata, who has won two caps off the bench, replaces Francesco Minto, while the other change sees Angelo Esposito replace Leonardo Sarto on the right wing.
Prop Tiziano Pasquale, flank Renato Giammarioli and scrumhalf Edoardo Gori come into the match-day 23 on the bench as O’Shea made five changes in total from last week’s 31-15 defeat to Argentina in Florence.
“The last selection (of the year) is always the hardest for a coach,” said O’Shea, the former Harlequins coach.
“We wanted to stick with the squad that has played in this trio of matches, while at the same time adding a bit of freshness in Angelo and Giovanni from the first minute.”
Italy come into this match having lost nine out of 10 internationals this year, with their only victory coming at home to Fiji two weeks ago.
Under O’Shea they have won only four of 21 Tests, and three of those were against tier two nations.
They have also lost twice to tier-two nations – at home to Tonga last year and away to Fiji in June – but a year ago recorded their first ever win over the Springboks.
Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello, Mattia Bellini, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi; Sergio Parisse (captain), Abraham Steyn, Giovanni Licata, Dean Budd, Marco Fuser, Simone Ferrari, Luca Bigi, Andrea Lovotti.
Bench: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Federico Zani, Tiziano Pasquali, Francesco Minto, Renato Giammarioli, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Matteo Minozzi.