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Italy select four debutants ahead of France encounter

Published 04/02/2016

Sergio Parisse, pictured, continues to bear Italy's RBS 6 Nations hopes on his shoulders
Sergio Parisse, pictured, continues to bear Italy's RBS 6 Nations hopes on his shoulders

Italy will aim to kick-start a new era in earnest after fielding four debutants for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France in Paris.

Front-row duo Andrea Lovotti and Ornel Gega, full-back David Odiete and wing Mattia Bellini will win their first Test caps at the Stade de France this weekend.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel will relinquish his role at the end of the tournament, with Harlequins' Conor O'Shea poised to take the helm.

A blooding of the next generation has already begun, however, with 10 uncapped players in Italy's tournament squad.

"It is up to us as experienced and senior players to guide them and help them reach the level quickly," said Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

"It is important to bring new talent through all the time.

"We've had a few injuries and so there have been some new faces, but Jacques (Brunel) has been keen to move things along anyway."

Wasps prop Lorenzo Cittadini gets the nod at tighthead prop over a refreshed Martin Castrogiovanni, who takes a seat on the bench.

Former Leicester prop Castrogiovanni missed the bulk of Italy's disappointing World Cup campaign after a benign tumour was discovered in his back.

Long-serving number eight Parisse believes Italy still boast the ability to pull off victory in Paris - but only if they produce a near-flawless performance.

"We've got to be at 100 per cent to win games like this," said Parisse.

"That hasn't changed. We of course have belief in ourselves, but now we need to follow that through."

ITALY TEAM TO FACE FRANCE IN PARIS ON SATURDAY: D Odiete (Mogliano), L Sarto (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Exeter), G Garcia (Zebre), M Bellini (Padova), C Canna (Zebre), E Gori (Treviso), A Lovotti (Zebre), O Gega (Treviso), L Cittadini (Wasps), G Fabio Biagi (Zebre), M Fuser, F Minto, A Zanni (all Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais). Replacements: D Giazzon, M Zanusso (both Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Racing 92), V Bernabo, A Van Schalkwyk, G Palazzani, K Haimona (all Zebre), L McLean (Treviso).

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