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Esposito handed Italy debut

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has opted for fitness over experience in his starting XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against defending champions Wales in Cardiff.

The Azzurri are plagued by injuries and Brunel has decided to give Benetton Treviso winger Angelo Esposito his Italy debut while also starting inexperienced Michele Campagnaro, Leonardo Sarto and Tommaso Allan.

Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco will become Italy's longest serving player overtaking the legendary Sergio Lanfranchi.

Bergamasco, 34, made his senior national team debut in 1998.

Bergamasco's younger brother, Mirco has been left out of the squad. He was hoping to be in the team after recovering from a serious knee injury that kept him out of the national team for two years.

Among those absent through injury are Wasps full-back Andrea Masi, Zebre wing Giovanbattista Venditti and La Rochelle centre Gonzalo Canale.

Sergio Parisse will serve as captain again after missing who the last two games of the 2013 Six Nations through suspension.

He will earn his 102nd cap at the Millennium Stadium.

Italy have faced Wales 21 times, losing 17 and winning just twice in Rome.

Italy team to face Wales:

L McLean (Treviso); A Esposito (Treviso), M Campagnaro (Treviso), A Sgarbi (Treviso), L Sarto (Zebre), T Allan (Perpignan), E Gori (Treviso); M Rizzo (Treviso) L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon) Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), M Bortolami (Zebre), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements:

D Giazzon (Zebre), A De Machi (Treviso), J Furno (Biarritz Olympique), F Minto (Treviso), T W Botes (Treviso) L Orquera (Zebre), T Iannone (Zebre).

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