SA-Born Botes Cracks Italy Nod
Tobias Botes is promoted to flyhalf as part of four changes made by Italy coach Jacques Brunel for the Azzurri's RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.
Treviso loosehead Michele Rizzo makes his Championship debut as part of a new prop pairing with Lorenzo Cittadini and Alberto Sgarbi comes in at centre.
It is at stand-off though where Brunel faced his greatest dilemma after Kris Burton failed to fire in the 19-15 defeat to England.
Botes, who was introduced as a replacement, was also horribly off target with his kicking as the Azzurri missed a crucial eight points with the boot – England’s Owen Farrell in contrast kicked five from five.
South African-born Botes, who plays alongside Burton at Treviso at scrumhalf, though has been handed the reins at flyhalf as Italy search for their first ever Championship defeat of Ireland.
He will partner club teammate Sgarbi in the midfield with the experienced Gonzalo Canale dropping to the bench.
Meanwhile the Championship-ending injury for Martin Castrogiovanni has allowed Cittadini to make his first RBS 6 Nations appearance this year alongside Rizzo, with Aironi prop Fabio Staibano coming into the Azzurri squad for the first time since 2009.
Andrea Lo Cicero and Guilio Toniolatti travel to the Aviva Stadium as reserves as Brunel’s starting XV contains only one player based outside Italy – Stade Francais No.8 and national team captain Sergio Parisse.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Tobias (Tobie) Botes, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys; 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Fabio Staibano, 18 Antonio Pavanello, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Fabio Semenzato, 21 Kris Burton, 22 Gonzalo Canale.
With thanks to RBS6Nations.com