Italy make four changes for South Africa clash

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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