Italy keep faith in Haimona

Date published: February 5 2015

Sergio Parisse will lead Italy as they open their Six Nations at home to Ireland at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Jacques Brunel has named an experienced side as the Azzurri look to bounce back from last year’s winless campaign.

Kelly Haimona, the Zebre fly-half, gets the nod at ten after helping Italy to victory over Samoa in November, their only win of 2014 and he will again link up with Edoardo Gori at nine.

Outside them will be Luca Morisi and Michele Campagnaro in the centres with a back three made up of Andrea Masi, at full-back, and Leonardo Sarto and Luke McLean on the wings.

Up front Brunel has gone with a hugely-experienced front row, as Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Matias Aguero start, while the back row is equally accomplished with Alessandro Zanni and Francesco Minto joining Parisse.

Newcastle lock Joshua Furno is joined by George Biagi in the second row to complete an imposing pack.

While it is an experienced starting lineup, the same can’t be said of the bench, with veterans Marco Bortolami and the Bergamasco brothers all left out.

Treviso back row Marco Barbini could make his debut off the bench, and Brunel will be able to call on the likes of Giovanbattista Venditti and Tommaso Allan as well.

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 George Biagi, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Gulgielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti.

Date: Saturday, February 7
Kick-off: 15:30 local (14:30 GMT)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico
Referee: Pascal Gauz