Six Nations: Italy breakdown

Sergio Parisse
Sergio Parisse
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Can victory over the Springboks inspire the Azzurri to greater things in this year’s tournament?

Coach: Conor O’Shea.

Captain: Sergio Parisse.

Old dog: Super Sergio is only 33 but he has a lot of miles on the clock, first capped in 2002.

New face: Maxime Mbanba. Italian born and bred, and should fill whichever flanker’s jersey Simone Favaro is not in.

Six Nations record: 5th, 4th, 6th, 5th, 6th.

Missing the action: Glasgow winger Leonardo Sarto and veteran flanker Alessandro Zanni will both miss the whole party.

Reasons to be cheerful: Italy promise not to stick to what they know best so scrum, mauls and roughing up the opposition, and they arrive with the Springboks’ scalp hanging on their belt which should boost confidence.

Reasons to be fearful: Brendan Venter should tighten up Italy’s defence but the Azzurri are still vulnerable to quick tempo, multi-phase rugby with a varied point of attack – ie exactly what Scotland are trying to achieve.

Odds: 500/1

Prediction: 6th