Ireland v Italy, Six Nations, Febraury 6
Gower boost for Azzurri
February 4, 2010
Italy fly-half Craig Gower feeds his backline, New Zealand v Italy, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, June 27, 2009
Italy fly-half Craig Gower has recovered from a knee injury that threatened to rule him out of his side's opener © Getty Images

Italy coach Nick Mallett has made no changes to the squad that beat Samoa in November for Saturday┬┤s Six Nations opener against Ireland at Croke Park.

The Azzurri won the final Test of last year against the Samoans, 24-6, to ended a 13-match winless streak. Bayonne fly-half Craig Gower has recovered from a knee injury and has been handed the No.10 role while Benetton Treviso's Alessandro Zanni will replace injured captain Sergio Parisse at No.8.

Parisse is out for the entire tournament with a knee injury, so Leonardo Ghiraldini will serve as captain. Mallett has included uncapped Rovigo fly-half Riccardo Bocchino in the squad. The Italians go into the tournament looking to improve after wooden-spoon performances in 2008 and 2009. They have won just one of their last 10 games in the Six Nations, a 23-20 victory over Scotland in Rome nearly two years ago.

Italy team to face Ireland in the Six Nations Championship, Croke Park, February 6 (Kick off 2.30pm): L McLean (Benetton Treviso); K Robertson (Viadana), G Canale (Clermont-Aubergne), G Garcia (Benetton Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais); C Gower (Bayonne), T Tebaldi (Gran Parma); S Perugini (Bayonne), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), C Del Fava (Viadana), Q Geldenhuys (Viadana), J Sole (Viadana), Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), A Zanni (Benetton Treviso)

Replacements: F Ongaro (Saracens), M Aguero (Saracens), M Bortolami (Gloucester), P Derbyshire (Petrarca Padova), S Picone (Treviso), R Bocchino (Rovigo), A Masi (Racing Metro Paris)


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