Mori starts as Italy look to end Six Nations campaign on positive note


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn Nations Cup - Wales v Italy - Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales, Britain - December 5, 2020 Italy’s Federico Mori in action with Wales’ Sam Parry REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

(Reuters) - Centre Federico Mori will start for Italy after being named in coach Franco Smith's side for their final match of this year's competition against Scotland on Saturday, with the Azzurri looking to end another disappointing campaign on a high.

Italy have lost 31 Six Nations matches in a row stretching back to a 2015 win over Scotland at Murrayfield and are already guaranteed to pick up a sixth successive wooden spoon this time around.

To end that barren run, Smith has named another youthful XV with Mori, 20, starting his first Six Nations match of the tournament at centre alongside Juan Ignacio Brex.

South African Smith makes four changes from the side who were thrashed by Wales last weekend, with David Sisi unable to recover from a shoulder injury inflicted in that defeat to make the squad.

Benetton Rugby duo Niccolo Cannone and Federico Ruzza line up in the second row, while prop pair Marco Riccioni and Danilo Fischetti make up the front row alongside captain Luca Bigi.

Despite losing four from four so far, Smith says there is still plenty to play for and believes his side are capable of ending their win drought on Saturday.

"We have a big challenge ahead of us," he said. "Our work during the week was excellent.

"We want to win on Saturday, closing the tournament in the best possible way and continuing on the path of becoming more and more competitive."

Italy team to face Wales:

15. Edoardo Padovani (Benetton Rugby, 27 caps)

14. Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club, 29 caps)

13. Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 3 caps)

12. Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 8 caps)

11. Montanna Ioane (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)

10. Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)

9. Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps)

8. Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)

7. Johan Meyer (Zebre Rugby Club, 12 caps)

6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 31 caps)

5. Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 21 caps)

4. Niccolo Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)

3. Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby, 14 caps)

2. Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club, 35 caps) (captian)

1. Danilo Fischetti (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps)

Replacements:

16. Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)

17. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club, 45 caps)

18. Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 14 caps)

19. Riccardo Favretto (Mogliano Rugby 1969, 0 caps)

20. Maxime Mbanda (Zebre Rugby Club, 27 caps)

21. Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby Club, 19 caps)

22. Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 51 caps)

23. Marco Zanon (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)

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