Brunel: Italy strong beyond Parisse
Italy will go into their RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales with coach Jacques Brunel insisting the Azzurri are not a one-man team.
But it remains to be seen whether or not Italy can overcome the loss of their imperious captain Sergio Parisse. The Stade Francais number eight was sent off playing for his club against Bordeaux-Begles last weekend, and subsequently received a 40-day ban, 10 days of which were suspended.
"We have to look at this game against Wales with ambition," Brunel said.
"I think we can win it despite the absence of Parisse. There are lots of players who are very influential in the game. Sergio is undoubtedly one of them, but he isn't the only one. We can't think this team is dependent on one player."
Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni has been handed leadership duties at the Stadio Olimpico, with Fiji-born Treviso number eight Manoa Vosawai taking Parisse's back-row place.
Parisse apart, Brunel has made three changes from the team beaten comprehensively by Scotland a fortnight ago, with Kristopher Burton and Edoardo Gori teaming up at half-back and lock Antonio Pavanello replacing Quintin Geldenhuys.
Regarding Castrogiovanni's appointment, Brunel added: "He was picked as captain for our summer tour last year and did very well. With him (in charge) we won two matches out of two. If he carries on like that, we could win the (Six Nations) championship."
Brunel could have rejigged his back row in Parisse's absence, but he has gone for a player in Vosawai who features there regularly for his club Treviso.
"Manoa plays that role at Treviso, just like Robert Barbieri and to a lesser extent Paul Derbyshire," Brunel said. "Barbieri is still not 100 per cent, which is why we have gone with Vosawai, with Derbyshire on the bench as a possible replacement, as well as another option on the flank."
And as for changing both half-backs, he added: "Tobias (Botes) and Luciano (Orquera) played very well against France, but in Scotland they struggled in the game management, like the rest of the team. That is why we have decided to make changes."