Italy make four changes for Bok clash

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 13:41
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Head coach Conor O'Shea underlined his long-term plan for Italy by making only four changes, two of them injury-enforced, from the side hammered 68-10 by New Zealand for their second November test against South Africa.

New-look Italy's hopes of making an impact against a youth-filled All Blacks side were kept in check by a 10-tries-to-one rout in Rome last weekend.

But Irishman O'Shea refused to berate his players after the heavy defeat and insisted his long-term plan will see the misfiring Azzurri back to winning ways.

Italy have played South Africa 12 times and lost on each occasion, but this is a Springboks team on a wretched run.

Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and prop Andrea Lovotti both suffered injuries in Rome and have been replaced by Treviso's Ornel Gega and Calvisano's Sami Panico respectively for Saturday's clash in Florence.

Giovanbattista Venditti has been called into the squad to replace Angelo Esposito on the left wing while Francesco Minto comes off the bench to replace Maxime Mbanda in the third row.

South Africa coach Allister Coetzee is under pressure following a poor run of results, including a record 15-57 defeat by New Zealand last month, and the Boks suffered their first defeat to England in a decade last weekend at Twickenham.

O'Shea, who signed a four-year contract earlier this year, said after last week's Test: "I have huge confidence in the squad... so long as we maintain our level of work rate and willingness to stick to a plan for 80 minutes, we can make a huge difference.

"I'm looking forward to playing South Africa next week. For me, the glass is always half full.

"If we stick to our plan, the results will follow. If we don't, they won't."

Italy have yet to announce their replacements.

The 'Boks will name their starting XV on Thursday.

Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Sami Panico.
Replacements: TBA

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Kick-off: 15.00 (14.00 GMT; 16.00 SA Time)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), David Wilkinson (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

AFP