Italy bring back Andrea Masi for Ireland decider

Italy have named fullback Andrea Masi in the starting line up for Sunday’s must-win Rugby World Cup match against Ireland.


Masi has recovered from the calf muscle injury that forced his late withdrawal from Tuesday’s 27-10 Pool C win over the United States.


Luke McLean dropped out of the starting lineup announced Friday and returns to the bench to accommodate Masi.


Although Italy has two days fewer than Ireland to rest and prepare for a game that each needs to win to guarantee a quarterfinal place, coach Nick Mallet otherwise chose the same side that started against the Americans.


“I don’t have to really talk to the players about this game,” Mallet said. “Our whole objective has always been to get to this point where we’ve given ourselves a chance. If we play really well – we have to play really well because they are an excellent team – we give ourselves a chance of getting into the quarterfinals.


“Right from a couple of years ago, we’ve been thinking about the possibility of getting into a quarterfinal. These five days, motivation is the last thing they need.”


Mallet said his players drew inspiration from February’s 13-11 Six Nations defeat to Ireland, when flyhalf Ronan O’Gara rescued the Irish with a late dropped goal. Italy bounced back to beat France and Mallet expects another reaction at Dunedin’s Otago Stadium.


“The changing room was very quiet,” Mallet said. “In the past they’d have been pleased to run the opposition really close. That’s a really good sign.


“That experience really helped us in a home game against France a couple of weeks later. The mental side of this Italy side has improved over the last four or five years. They’re not just happy to compete.”


Italy:


Andrea Masi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco, Luciano Orquera, Fabio Semenzato; Sergio Parisse (captain), Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni, Cornelius van Zyl, Quintin Geldenhuys, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini.


Reserves: Fabio Ongaro, Andrea Lo Cicero, Marco Bortolami, Paul Derbyshire, Edoardo Gori, Riccardo Bocchino, Luke McLean.

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