(Reuters) – Number eight Sergio Parisse will return from a head injury to captain Italy against England as coach Conor O’Shea made three changes to his team for Saturday’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham.
Sebastian Negri returns to the back row after recovering from an illness while hooker Luca Bigi is set to make his first start in the Championship, replacing Leonardo Ghiraldini who started in the 26-16 defeat by Ireland.
“We have trained well this week to build on the great work done before the Ireland game,” O’Shea told reporters.
“The focus has to be on ourselves and on the things we can control, trying to play our best rugby.”
England coach Eddie Jones announced his team earlier on Thursday with winger Joe Cokanasiga and centre Ben Te’o set to start in a heavyweight England backline.
Italy, who are bottom of the standings, have never beaten England and have lost their last 20 matches in the competition.
Team: 15-Jayden Hayward, 14-Edoardo Padovani, 13-Michele Campagnaro, 12-Luca Morisi, 11-Angelo Esposito, 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Tito Tebaldi, 8-Sergio Parisse (captain), 7-Abraham Steyn, 6-Sebastian Negri, 5-Dean Budd, 4-Federico Ruzza, 3-Simone Ferrari, 2-Luca Bigi, 1-Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16-Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17-Cherif Traore, 18-Tiziano Pasquali, 19-David Sisi, 20-Jake Polledri, 21-Guglielmo Palazzani, 22-Ian McKinley, 23-Tommaso Castello
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)