Smith names unchanged Italy team to face Ireland

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Nations Cup - Wales v Italy - Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales, Britain - December 5, 2020 Italy head coach Franco Smith before the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

(Reuters) - Italy coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged side for the visit of Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations match.

Young halfback pair Stephen Varney, 19, and Paolo Garbisi, 20, are again entrusted by Smith, with Juan Ignacio Brex earning his third cap at centre alongside Carlo Canna, who will reach a half century of appearances for the Azzurri.

Italy have lost 29 Six Nations matches in a row stretching back to a win over Scotland in 2015 and firm favourites to pick up a sixth successive wooden spoon in this year's competition.

Smith, though, sees progression in his young side.

"We worked a lot on ourselves focusing on our game plan," Smith told a news conference on Thursday after keepig faith with the XV beaten 41-18 by England at Twickenham.

"Against Ireland we aim to show the same attitude we showed in the last match with the aim of taking another step forward in the growth path."

Ireland are still searching for their first victory in this year's Championship after losses to Wales and France, who beat Italy 50-10 in their opening game.

Italy team:

15. Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 5 caps)

14. Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)

13. Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 2 cap)

12. Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 49 caps)

11. Montanna Ioane (Benetton Rugby, 3 caps)

10. Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps)

9. Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps)

8. Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)

7. Johan Meyer (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps)

6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 30 caps)

5. David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club, 13 caps)

4. Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby, 13 caps)

3. Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)

2. Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club, 34 caps) (C)

1. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club, 44 caps)


16. Gianmarco Lucchesi(Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)

17. Cherif Traore (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)

18. Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 12 caps)

19. Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)

20. Maxime Mbanda (Zebre Rugby Club, 26 caps)

21. Callum Braley (Benetton Rugby, 49 caps)

22. Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 6 caps)

23. Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club, 28 caps)

(Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Ken Ferris)

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