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Brunel makes his mark

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has rung the changes for his team's RBS 6 Nations opener against France in Paris on Saturday.

Brunel, who faces his home nation in his first game in charge of the Azzurri, has made seven alterations to the squad from Italy's last game.

A 36-6 defeat to Ireland in October eliminated Italy from the World Cup in New Zealand and marked Nick Mallett's last game in charge.

Aironi winger Giovanbattista Venditti will earn his first cap at the Stade de France after being included in Brunel's starting XV.

Another uncapped player, Benetton Treviso's Tobias Botes, will start on the bench.

Italy beat France 22-21 for the first time in the Six Nations last year in Rome, but finished last in the tournament.

Team: A Masi (Aironi Rugby), G Venditti (Aironi Rugby), T Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso), A Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso), L McLean (Benetton Treviso), K Burton (Benetton Treviso), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro Paris), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), C Van Zyl (Benetton Treviso), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi Rugby), A Zanni (Benetton Treviso), R Barbieri (Benetton Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: T D'Apice (Aironi Rugby), L Cittadini (Benetton Treviso), M Bortolami (Aironi Rugby), S Favaro (Aironi Rugby), F Semenzato (Benetton Treviso), T Botes (Benetton Treviso), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne).


From Belfast Telegraph