Monday 22 January 2018

Bergamasco returns as Italians make four changes for Twickenham clash

Mauro Bergamasco will earn his 101st international cap against England after he was recalled to the starting team.
Mauro Bergamasco will earn his 101st international cap against England after he was recalled to the starting team.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made four changes to the starting XV that lost its RBS Six Nations opener against Ireland for Saturday's game against England at Twickenham.

Zebre captain Marco Bortolami has recovered from a muscular injury that saw him miss the 26-3 defeat in Rome and will start at prop to earn his 111th cap for Italy.

Club team-mate Mauro Bergamasco, also absent against the Irish, will earn his 101st cap this weekend when he starts as flanker, replacing the injured Alessandro Zanni.

"We have had to re-think the group in light of the injuries to (Michele) Campagnaro and Zanni," Brunel told the Italian press. "But we are counting on the experience of Bortolami and Bergamasco.

"We have worked hard to maintain the defensive quality that we showed against Ireland and are trying to improve our possession.

"England is a different cup of tea and for us, this remains a great challenge."

With Benetton Treviso centre Campagnaro out injured, Brunel has shifted Andrea Masi to midfield while Luke McLean moves to full-back.

Zebre's Giovambattista Venditti is promoted from the bench to replace McLean on the left wing.

Sale Sharks prop Alberto De Marchi, benched last weekend, will replace Matias Aguero, who makes the squad.

Zebre centre Giulio Bisegni is included as a replacement and could make his Italy debut.

Fiji-born flanker Samuela Vunisa, who made his Azzurri bow in November, may make his first Six Nations appearance after being named in the squad.

Italy have lost all of their 20 previous games against England.

Italy team to face England: L McLean (Sale Sharks); L Sarto (Zebre), L Morisi (Benetton Treviso), A Masi (London Wasps), G Venditti (Zebre); K Haimona (Zebre), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); A De Marchi (Sale Sharks), L Ghiraldini (Leicester Tigers), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon), G Biagi (Zebre), M Bortolami (Zebre), F Minto (Benetton Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: A Manici (Zebre), M Aguero (Zebre), D Chistolini (Zebre), J Furno (Newcastle Falcons), S Vunisa (Zebre), G Palazzani (Zebre), T Allan (Perpignan), G Bisegni (Zebre).

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