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Marco Bortolami accepts the call to lead Italy

By Niall Crozier

Veteran lock Marco Bortolami will captain Italy in Saturday's RBS Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has left skipper Sergio Parisse out of the squad in the hope he will recover from a thigh injury in time to face England in Rome on March 15.

Benetton Treviso's Robert Barbieri will take Parisse's place at number eight. Bortolami, a former Italy captain, is alongside Paul Derbyshire and Luciano Orquera in a trio of players that Azzurri coach Brunel has promoted to the starting XV having all been benched against Scotland.

Derbyshire replaces injured flanker Alessandro Zanni, who sustained a knee injury in Italy's 21-20 loss to Scotland in Rome two weeks ago.

Tito Tebaldi returns to the Italy fold for the first time since June 2012 and will start at scrum-half.

Prop Michele Rizzo is also included among the replacements after serving a three-week suspension.

Treviso flanker Manoa Vosawai and London Wasps centre Andrea Masi also make the cut.

The Italians have not beaten Ireland in Dublin since a 37-29 victory in January 1997.

ITALY: L McLean (Treviso), A Esposito (Treviso), M Campagnaro (Treviso), G Garcia (Zebre), L Sarto (Zebre), L Orquera (Zebre), T Tebaldi (Ospreys); A De Marchi (Treviso), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon), Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), M Bortolami (Zebre), Joshua Furno (Biarritz), P Derbyshire (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso). Replacements: D Giazzon (Zebre), M Rizzo (Treviso), L Cittadini (Treviso), A Pavanello (Treviso), M Vosawai (Treviso), E Gori (Treviso), T Allan (Perpignan), A Masi (London Wasps).

e THE future of the RaboDirect Pro 12 appears to have been secured after the Italian Rugby Federation guaranteed the participation of two teams for the next four seasons.

It is just over three weeks ago that the Italians stated that they intended to pull Treviso and Zebre out of the competition ahead of forming an eight-team domestic league.

A meeting between the Italian union (FIR) and their Welsh, Irish and Scottish counterparts also agreed that FIR will join Celtic Rugby as an equal partner from July 1, 2014.

A statement read: "Under the new agreement, FIR will ensure the participation of two Italian teams for the next four years in the competition which is currently known as the RaboDirect PRO12.

"The agreement between FIR, SRU, WRU and IRFU will be officially signed in due course."

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