Italy skipper Sergio Parisse in action against Ireland in the Six Nations. Photo: REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

MARSEILLE - Italy's veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini has been restored to the front row while Maxime Mbanda will make his first start of this year's Six Nations in Friday's clash against France in two changes made by coach Conor O'Shea on Wednesday.

Ghiraldini, who plays his club rugby in France, has been alternating with Luca Bigi as hooker for Italy and will earn his 92nd cap after being given the nod.

Mbanda takes over on the side of the scrum from Brahm Steyn, who has been dropped from the matchday 23 after Italy lost their last Six Nations clash 56-19 to Ireland a fortnight ago.

George Fabio Biagi moves to the bench as Mbanda starts.

Captain Sergio Parisse is the other player in the team who competes in the French league and O'Shea predicted an immense performance from his veteran eighthman at the imposing Stade Velodrome on Friday.

"Sergio is always a consistent performer but this is the kind of game where he is likely to be the player to put his head above the parapet," O'Shea told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We are expecting an incredible atmosphere in Marseille in a special stadium. It will be very different to the other matches in the Six Nations," he added.

France and Italy are looking for their first win of the campaign. Italy have conceded 102 points in losing their opening pair of Six Nations games to England at home and Ireland away.

Italy team:

Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Tommaso Boni, Tomasso Castello, Mattia Bellini, Tomasso Allan, Marcello Violi, Sergio Parisse (captain), Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Dean Budd, Alessandro Zanni, Simone Ferrari, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti. Replacements: Luca Bigi, Nicola Quaglio, Tiziano Pasquali, George Fabio Biagi, Federico Ruzza, Edoardo Gori, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward.

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