Steyn gets Italy start

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:00
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Italy head coach Conor O'Shea has handed Abraham Steyn a starting role for Sunday's Six Nations encounter with England at Twickenham.

Steyn replaces Maxime Mbanda in the loose trio while they will also have a fresh face at flyhalf with Tommaso Allan getting his first start of the competition, in a straight swap with Carlo Canna.

"England are one of the best teams in the world, second only to the All Blacks. They are a very clinical side that makes few mistakes.

"It's a big challenge for us. We will have to avoid the same mistakes we made against Ireland. We want to give a good account of ourselves at Twickenham and remain competitive for 80 minutes," Allan said

Giulio Bisegni comes off the bench to start in place of Angelo Esposito on the wing, while Exeter Chiefs' Michele Campagnaro - a late replacement against both Wales and Ireland - will start at centre in place of Tommaso Benvenuti.

Italy began this year's tournament with renewed hope and confidence following a historic 20-18 win over South Africa in the November Test series.

But despite glimpses of promise in their opening two games at the Stadio Olimpico, the Azzurri are staring at a likely 12th wooden spoon in 18 editions following defeats by Wales (33-7) and Ireland, who registered their highest ever Six Nations away win over Italy in a nine-try romp nearly a fortnight ago.

Against England, Italy are likely to be given little respite. Allan is hoping the improvements brought to his game by former England flyhalf Mike Catt, an Italy assistant coach, come to the fore.

"For Mike, it will be a big challenge, but also exciting for him down to walk on to the pitch in front of his audience, albeit as an opponent.

"It's great working with him. He's a great coach who works hard both on the skills of the team as with us on an individual level at the end of training, focusing on the small details that can make a difference," he added.

Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Abraham Steyn, 5 Andries van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 George Biagi, 20 Maxime Mbanda, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.

Date: Sunday, February 26
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 15.00 (16.00 Italy time)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

AFP

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