MILAN (Reuters) – Italy coach Conor O’Shea retained only five players from the team who lost to Ireland for the test against Georgia in Florence on Saturday.
Backs Mattia Bellini, Michele Campagnaro, who captained the side in Chicago, and Luca Sperandio kept their places along with scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi and Braam Steyn, who moves from flanker to number eight.
Italy were hammered 54-7 by the Irish, albeit with a weakened team, and need to bounce back against Georgia in a match with important bragging rights at stake.
Italy’s ability to properly compete in the Six Nations is under perennial question, with Georgia often cited as a team with better credentials to play in Europe’s elite competition.
“We all know the importance of this match,” O’Shea told a news conference on Thursday.
“The team has recovered well from the trip to the U.S. and we are ready to face Georgia. It will be a very physical match. We want to show our maximum level for 80 minutes,” he said.
Italy are without injured captain Sergio Parisse, who could return next week against Australia in Padua.
Team: 15-Luca Sperandio, 14-Tommaso Benvenuti, 13-Michele Campagnaro, 12-Tommaso Castello, 11-Mattia Bellini, 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Tito Tebaldi, 8-Braam Steyn, 7-Jake Polledri, 6-Sebastian Negri, 5-Dean Budd, 4-Alessandro Zanni, 3-Simone Ferrari, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1-Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16-Luca Bigi, 17-Cherif Traore, 18-Tiziano Pasquali, 19-Marco Fuser, 20-Johan Meyer, 21-Guglielmo Palazzani, 22-Carlo Canna, 23-Luca Morisi.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond)