Six Nations
Brunel hands debut to Venditti
ESPNscrum Staff
February 1, 2012
Giovanbattista Venditti celebrates Aironi's victory over Treviso, Aironi v Treviso, RaboDirect PRO12, Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana, Italy, December 23, 2011
Giovanbattista Venditti will take his bow for Italy against France on Saturday © Getty Images
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New Italy boss Jacques Brunel has handed Aironi winger Giovanbattista Venditti his debut ahead of their Six Nations opener against France on Saturday.

Brunel faces a baptism of fire in his first clash as boss of the Azzurri when he takes his side to the Stade de France to face the World Cup runners-up. The ex-Perpignan coach knows the ground well but it will be the first time he gets the chance to see his pre-Six Nations preparation in a matchday environment. And he has shaken things up in the backs with Venditti partnered by Andrea Masi and Luke McLean in the back three.

Winger-come-centre Tommaso Benvenuti lines up at 13 while Alberto Sgarbi takes in the inside centre berth. Their partnership means Clermont centre Gonzalo Canale has to be content with a spot on the bench. Kris Burton takes the fly-half reins while Edoardo Gori lines up at scrum-half.

In the pack Brunel has gone for the tried and tested with inspirational skipper Sergio Parisse anchoring the side at No.8 but he has opted for Robert Barbieri in the back-row ahead of Mauro Bergamasco. Alessandro Zanni starts at openside with Quintin Geldenhuys lining up at lock along with Cornelius van Zyl. The formidable trio of Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Andrea Lo Cicero all start in the front-row.

Italy side to face France:

Andrea Masi, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Luke Mclean, Kristopher Burton, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lo Cicero, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Cornelius van Zyl, Quintin Geldenhuys, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (c)

Replacements: Tommaso D'Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Bortolami, Simone Favaro, Fabio Semenzato, Tobias Botes, Gonzalo Canale

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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