Italy make Louis Lynagh call while Exeter star gets first start against France

Jared Wright
Exeter Chiefs forward Ross Vintcent and Harlequins winger Louis Lynagh.

Exeter Chiefs forward Ross Vintcent and Harlequins winger Louis Lynagh.

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada has made several tweaks to his matchday squad to face France in round three of the Six Nations after a 36-0 thrashing at the hands of Ireland.

Exeter Chiefs star Ross Vintcent earns his first Test start after making his debut against Ireland, while Quesada has made further changes in his pack and backline.

However, Harlequins star Louis Lynagh will not make his bow for Italy this week after he was called up into the squad ahead of the clash with Les Bleus.

Alterations in the pack

Azzurri captain Michele Lamaro is the only loose forward who retains a starting role from the defeat to Ireland as he shifts from number eight to his more regular position at openside flanker. He is joined in the back-row by number eight Vintcent and blindside flanker Riccardo Favretto.

Niccolò Cannone and Federico Ruzza combine in an unchanged second-row partnership, while tighthead prop Giosuè Zilocchi and Giacomo Nicotera are promoted from the bench to the starting XV, where they join loosehead prop Danilo Fischetti.

Paolo Garbisi continues as the starting fly-half, but for a third consecutive week, he has a new halfback partner as Martin Page-Relo replaces Stephen Varney, who drops to the bench.

Tommaso Menoncello has been in fine form in the centres for Italy, but he has been shifted to the wing to accommodate Federico Mori’s inclusion at inside centre, where he partners with Juan Ignacio Brex.

The back-three is otherwise unchanged as Monty Ioane (left-wing) and Ange Capuozzo retain their starting roles.

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Finally, Quesada has opted for a 6-2 split to combat France’s abrasive bench.

Gianmarco Lucchesi, Mirco Spagnolo, Simone Ferrari, Matteo Canali, Andrea Zambonin and Manuel Zuliani will provide cover in the pack from the bench, with Varney and Leonardo Marin as the backline replacements. Canali could make his Test debut if called upon.

This will be the 50th Test match between the two nations as France put the Garibaldi Trophy on the line.

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Italy team v France

Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Federico Mori, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 8 Ross Vintcent, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 6 Riccardo Favretto, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Giosuè Zilocchi, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Andrea Zambonin, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Leonardo Marin

Date: Sunday, February 25
Venue: Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)