Franco Smith sticks with the same starting XV that made England look very ordinary for large parts of the Twickenham encounter, while Mbanda, Traore, Braley and Bellini are new to the bench. I would’ve been tempted to start the monstrous Federico Mori on the wing to counteract some of James Lowes’ physical presence, but Smith is a international coach and I’m writing this, so why would he care about what tempts me?
Andy Farrell makes seven changes in an attempt to give his team a boot up their too often lumbering and indecisive backside. Captain Johnny Sexton is back to bring expereince if not exactly form to proceedings, while Jordan Larmour replaces Keith Earls on the wing.
In the forwards it’s a brand new front row of hotstepping Dave Kilcoyne, the dynamic Ronan Kelleher and the ever-dependable Tadhg Furlong to give the Italians some trouble in the scrum but also in the loose, where this trio will be a handful. The totemic James Ryan returns at lock and Will Connors slots in the back row.
Italy: Jacopo Trulla; Luca Sperandio, Juan Ignacio Brex, Carlo Canna, Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Marco Riccioni, Marco Lazzaroni, David Sisi, Sebastian Negri, Johan Meyer, Michele Lamaro.
Replacements: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Cherif Traore, Giosuè Zilocchi, Niccolò Cannone, Maxime Mbanda, Callum Braley, Federico Mori, Mattia Bellini.
Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Jonathan Sexton, Jamison Gibson Park; Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.