Italy to face Romania without Parisse

Date published: October 9 2015

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel has named his team for the Pool D match against Romania at Sandy Park on Sunday.

He has made just two changes to the starting line-up that lost 16-9 to Ireland last Sunday. After making his comeback from injury in the Ireland match, captain Sergio Parisse drops out of the match-day 23, and is replaced in the back row by Alessandro Zanni.

In the absence of 114-test Parisse, the starting line-up has a total of 576 caps, the lowest for Italy in a RWC since the run-on team (533) in the 31-5 win over Portugal at RWC 2007. 

In terms of average age, at 27 years 201 days it is also Italy's youngest RWC starting XV since RWC 2007 and the 18-16 final pool-match defeat by Scotland (27 years, 133 days). Without Parisse and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, who still has not recovered from a thigh muscle injury, lock Quintin Geldenhuys will take over as captain.

Geldenhuys will be the 11th player to captain Italy in a RWC match, but has already led Italy three times, in tests against Fiji, Samoa and Japan in June 2014. Italy captains have scored tries in the previous two RWCs, Parisse in 2011 (2) and Alessandro Troncon in 2007, so perhaps the armband will bring Geldenhuys some luck and his first test try for Italy. Only Salvatore Perugini (83) has played more tests for Italy without scoring a point.

The other change is Tommaso Benvenuti who comes in at inside centre for Gonzalo Garcia, which he also did after just three minutes of the 16-9 defeat by Ireland. Those minutes were the only previous test rugby Benvenuti and Michele Campagnaro have played in that combination. Campagnaro will play on his new home ground, having signed a two-year contract to represent English Premiership team the Exeter Chiefs when RWC 2015 is over. 

Alberto De Marchi, who joined the squad at the start of the week as an injury replacement for Martin Castrogiovanni, could make his RWC debut if he gets off the bench. He is the only player in Italy's match-day 23 who has not played any RWC 2015 minutes so far.
Alongside him on the bench is Valerio Bernabo, the only player in Italy's 23 now who played the last time Italy took on Romania in a test, the 24-18 defeat at RWC 2007. The only other player who was involved then for Italy is starting prop Matias Aguero, but he was an unused replacement in 2007.

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Benvenuti, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Alessandro Zanni, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Samuela Vunisa, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani,  22 Carlo Canna, 23 Enrico Bacchin.