100 caps for Castrogiovanni & Parisse against Fiji

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made several changes from the starting XV that suffered heavy defeat to Australia last week ahead of the second November Test against Fiji on Saturday.

Italy began their three-test November series hoping to build on a strong Six Nations performance earlier this year, having come close to stunning Australia in a 19-22 defeat this time last year.

But despite taking an early 10-0 lead, the Azzurri trailed 19-10 by half time and were reduced to virtual bystanders after half-time when the Wallabies touched down at regular intervals to finish 50-20 ahead.

Brunel said Italy’s morale had suffered a blow and expects amends to be made ahead of their final test, a week on Saturday against Argentina at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

“Against Australia last Saturday the team didn’t play to its full potential, and this is certainly one of the reasons we’ve made so many changes,” said the Frenchman.

“But we also want to use these games to give a chance to the players who have been selected.

“Morale is obviously not high after defeat to the Wallabies but it’s clear we expect a different attitude and approach against Fiji, especially with regards to our defence.”

Captain and No 8 Sergio Parisse and prop Martin Castrogiovanni are set to make their 100th appearances for Italy in Cremona, but the veterans are among only seven players to retain their starting place.

Australian-born Luke McLean, an early try-scorer for Italy last week when the hosts suffered a morale-sapping 50-20 reverse, will start at full back again but Brunel has reshuffled the centres and the wings.

Giovambattista Venditti comes in at right wing at the expense of Tommaso Benevenuti, with Gonzalo Canale taking over at outside centre for Luca Morisi, who moves to inside centre.

Tommaso Iannone, who came off the bench in the second half against the Wallabies in Turin, starts on the left wing in place of Leonardo Sarto.

Luciano Orquera replaces Alberto Di Bernardo at fly-half after the latter’s ineffective display with the boot last weekend, with Edoardo Gori keeping his post at scrum half.

In the third row, Brunel has opted for experience.

While Parisse will look to make his 100th cap a memorable one, the skipper will be flanked by Mauro Bergamasco at openside and Alessandro Zanni at blindside, the latter making his 54th consecutive appearance for the Azzurri.

In the second row, Brunel has made two changes, with Valerio Bernabo and Quintin Geldenhuys replacing Marco Bortolami and Antonio Pavanello respectively in a bid to give Italy more ball possession.

The only change to the front row is the return of hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, with Davide Giazzon dropping to the bench. He will be flanked by props Michele Rizzo and Castrogiovanni.

Italy will be meeting Fiji for the ninth time, the sides each having won four of their previous eight encounters.

The Azzurri prevailed 24-16 on their last outing in Modena in 2010.

Fiji coach Inoke Male announced his starting XV on Thursday having seen his side run in six tries in a 36-13 victory away to Portugal last weekend.

Italy

Luke McLean; Giovambattista Venditti, Gonzalo Canale, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Iannone; Luciano Orquera, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni; Valerio Bernabo, Quintin Geldenhuys; Martin Castrogiovanni Leonardo Ghiraldini, Michele Rizzo

Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matias Aguero, Lorenzo Cittadini, Joshua Furno, Manoa Vosawai, Tobias Botes, Tommaso Allan, Michele Campagnaro

Fiji

Metuisela Talebula; Timoci Nagusa, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Nemani Nadolo, Napolioni Nalaga; Serenaia Bai, Nemia Kenatale; Sakiusa Matadigo, Akapusi Qera (capt), Dominiko Waqaniburotukula; Wame Lewaravu, Apisai Naikatini; Setefano Somoca, Viliame Veikoso, Jereremaia Yanuyanutawa

Replacements: Seremaia Namaralevu, Cam

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