Italy make four changes for South Africa clash
Coach Conor O’Shea underlined his longterm plan for Italy by making only four changes, two of them injury-enforced, from the side hammered 68-10 by New Zealand for the second November Test against South Africa. New-look Italy’s hopes of making an impact against a youth-filled All Blacks side were kept in check by a 10-tries-to-one rout in Rome last weekend.
But Irishman O’Shea, who signed a four-year contract in the summer, refused to berate his players after the heavy defeat. “The team that played against the All Blacks deserved another chance,” O’Shea said after announcing his starting XV yesterday.
“Playing is the only way to gain experience and I think in a few years, when we look back at last Saturday’s game, we’ll see it as a starting point.
“We made mistakes but they are not difficult to remedy and against such a strong team as New Zealand we were made to pay dearly. “But our defensive structure was very good and we kept the intensity of the game high.
“It will sound strange after a defeat like Saturday’s, but against the All Blacks we laid some foundations that we intend to fully develop with the players here who will represent the future of the squad.”
Italy have played South Africa 12 times and lost on each occasion, but this is a Springboks team on a wretched run. The Boks’ first defeat to England in a decade came at Twickenham last week, adding to a record 57-15 defeat by New Zealand last month.
Underpressure coach Allister Coetzee said: “We need to get a win. That is one important thing for any team. You can work as hard as you want, but for belief in structures and the team itself, you need to win.” Italian hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and prop Andrea Lovotti both suffered injury in Rome and have been replaced by Treviso’s Ornel Gega and Calvisano’s Sami Panico respectively for Saturday’s clash in Florence.
Giovanbattista Venditti has been called into the squad to replace Angelo Esposito on the left wing while Francesco Minto comes off the bench to replace Maxime Mbanda in the third row.
Italy have yet to announce their replacements. The ‘Boks will name their starting XV on Thursday but it will be without Eben Etzebeth, who is suffering from concussion.
Italy team to play South Africa at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence on Saturday.
Edoardo Padovani; Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luke McLean, Giovanbattista Venditti, Carlo Canna, Giorgio Bronzini; Sergio Parisse (capt.), Simone Favaro, Francesco Minto; Andries Van Schalkwyk, Marco Fuser; Lorenzo Cittadini, Ornel Gega, Sami Panico. —AFP