Italy v Ireland, Six Nations Championship, February 15
Ireland keep faith for Rome trip
February 11, 2009
Ireland prop John Hayes sings the national anthem ahead of the clash with South Africa, Ireland v South Africa, Lansdowne Road, November 11, 2006.
John Hayes will win his 91st cap for Ireland against Italy © Getty Images

Ireland boss Declan Kidney has kept faith with the side that defeated France in their opening Six Nations game at Croke Park last weekend for the trip to face Italy in Rome on Sunday.

Ulster's Paddy Wallace and Munster's Jerry Flannery have both been passed fit for the game and take up their positions at centre and hooker respectively. Wallace slots back in to a midfield that will also see skipper Brian O'Driscoll win his 90th cap for Ireland, while Flannery's fellow front-rower John Hayes will win his 91st cap, equalling Malcolm O'Kelly's all-time record.

Rob Kearney, so impressive against France, Tommy Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald continue their promising partnership in the back-three, while Munster half-backs Ronan O'Gara and Tomas O'Leary are again called into action for their country.

Italy boss Nick Mallett has named Mauro Bergamasco at openside flanker for the game. Bergamasco was controversially selected at scrum-half last weekend, and experiment that proved agonisingly short as he was hauled off at half-time during Italy's opening 36-11 loss to England at Twickenham. He now returns to his regular position on the openside flank alongside Alessandro Zanni and skipper Sergio Parisse in the back-row.

His brother, Mirco, also shifts positions, replacing Gonzalo Garcia at inside centre after starting on the wing last weekend. Bergamasco partners Gonzalo Canale in midfield, with Calvisano's Matteo Pratichetti taking his place out wide. Luke McLean starts at fly-half after an impressive showing from the bench last weekend, with veteran Calvisano scrum-half Paul Griffen going straight into the starting line-up after his call-up last week.

Carlo Antonio Del Fava is also put straight into the side after a late call-up, the Ulster lock replacing Marco Bortolami, who drops out of the 22.

Italy: Andrea Masi (Biarritz Olympique), Kaine Robertson (Viadana), Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Matteo Pratichetti (Calvisano), Luke McLean (Calvisano), Paul Griffen (Calvisano), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, capt), Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), Alessandro Zanni (Calvisano), Tommaso Reato (Rovigo), Santiago Dellape' (Toulon), Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), Fabio Ongaro (Saracens), Salvatore Perugini (Stade Toulousain)

Replacements: Carlo Festuccia (Racing Metro Paris), Carlos Nieto (Gloucester), Carlo Antonio Del Fava (Ulster), Josh Sole (Viadana), Giulio Toniolatti (Capitolina), Gonzalo Garcia (Cammi Calvisano), Andrea Bacchetti (Rovigo)

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); M Horan (Munster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: R Best (Ulster), T Court (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester).


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