Parisse fit as O'Shea changes four for Ireland
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Captain Sergio Parisse has shaken off a neck injury to lead resurgent Italy into Saturday's Six Nations clash against embattled Ireland in Rome.
Parisse was one of several injury concerns for coach Conor O'Shea following last week's 7-33 defeat to Wales at the Stadio Olimpico, but was named in the starting XV Thursday.
But after undergoing scans in midweek, the stade Francais No.8 - inspirational for Italy in a thrilling first half last Sunday - has been declared match fit.
O'Shea, who made 35 appearances as a player for Ireland, made only four changes from the side that took a 7-3 lead into half-time against Wales at the Stadio Olimpico.
Angelo Esposito replaces Giulio Bisegni on the wing in the only change among the backs.
Simone Favaro, rested as a precaution against Wales, pushes Abraham Steyn on to the replacements bench to take his place in the third row alongside Maxime Mbanda and Sergio Parisse, who will captain the Azzurri for the 75th time on his 123rd appearance.
Dries Van Schalkwyk replaces George Biagi, who returns to the bench, to partner Marco Fuser in the second row while Leonardo Ghiraldini, a second-half substitute against Wales, replaces Ornel Gega at hooker.
O'Shea has kept faith with his halfback partnership of Edoardo Gori and Carlo Canna, while prop Andrea Lovotti, whose second-half yellow card last week allowed Wales to fight their way back into the game, will start alongside Ghiraldini in and Lorenzo Cittadini in the front row.
Ireland travel to the Italian capital looking to make amends for an opening 22-27 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.
Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Maxime MBanda', 5 Dries Van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Michele Campagnaro.
Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.25 (14.25 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)