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Botes given first start

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made four changes to face Ireland in Saturday's RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium.

Tobias Botes will play at fly-half, thus earning his first Azzurri start, with Kristopher Burton relegated to the bench alongside Gonzalo Canale, whose place at number 12 is taken by Alberto Sgarbi.

Benetton Treviso loosehead prop Michele Rizzo will make his Six Nations debut in Dublin, replacing veteran Andrea Lo Cicero, who drops to the bench, while Lorenzo Cittadini will make his first appearance in this year's tournament replacing injured Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni.

Castrogiovanni will miss the rest of the tournament after sustaining a fractured rib in the defeat by England.

Aironi prop Fabio Staibano has also been included in Brunel's 24-man squad for the first time since the summer of 2009.

Italy began their Six Nations campaign with a 30-12 loss at France and fell 19-15 to England in Rome in the last round.

Italy team to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday:

A Masi (Aironi Rugby); G Venditti (Aironi Rugby), T Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso), A Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso) , L McLean (Benetton Treviso); T Botes (Benetton Treviso), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); M Rizzo (Benetton Treviso), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), L Cittadini (Benetton Treviso), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi Rugby), M Bortolami (Aironi Rugby), A Zanni (Benetton Treviso), R Barbieri (Benetton Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: T D'Apice (Aironi Rugby),F Staibano (Aironi Rugby), A Pavanello (Benetton Treviso), S Favaro (Aironi Rugby), F Semenzato (Benetton Treviso), K Burton (Benetton Treviso), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), A Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro Paris), G Toniolatti (Aironi Rugby).


From Belfast Telegraph