Italy take no offence at Wales raft of changes

by AFP

"Respect" has been an oft-heard word in the build-up to the Six Nations international between Wales and Italy in Cardiff on Sunday.

Has Wales coach Warren Gatland shown perennial strugglers Italy a lack of respect by making 10 changes to his side and will the Azzurri, on a desperate run of 15 successive tournament defeats gain a measure of self-respect, if not by victory then at least with an improved showing at the Principality Stadium this weekend?

Wales are out of title contention following an early loss to England and a 37-27 defeat by table-toppers Ireland last time out in Dublin.

Former Ireland coach Gatland, clearly with an eye on next year's World Cup, has decided to examine Wales' strength in depth in a somewhat calmer environment than Japan 2019, and that's just fine by Italy boss Conor O'Shea.

"They are not being disrespectful," O'Shea, who as a fullback played in an Ireland team coached by Gatland.

"Warren is obviously looking ahead to the future, and we are both at different stages.

"I remember working with Warren when I was a player and he came in when Ireland were at a low ebb."

O'Shea added: "He started a process there for the future, and you have to start somewhere. Scotland had to do it, and the results Scotland are having now (back-to-back wins over France and England) isn't about one coach coming in, it's about people five, six or seven years ago doing what's right.

"That's what we are doing. If you look at some of the young players we are blooding, it's promising.

"I know I am judged on results, but frankly I don't care. What we will do is what's right."

O'Shea has made just the one change following a 34-17 defeat by France, with centre Giulio Bisegni replacing Tommaso Boni.  


Italy team to play Wales

15 Matteo Minozzi

14. Tommaso Benvenuti

13. Giulio Bisegni,

12. Tommaso Castello

11. Mattia Bellini

10. Tommaso Allan

9. Marcello Violi

8. Sergio Parisse (c)

7. Maxime Mbanda

6. Sebastian Negri

5. Dean Budd

4. Alessandro Zanni

3. Simone Ferrari

2. Leonardo Ghiraldini

1. Andrea Lovotti


16. Oliviero Fabiani

17. Nicola Quaglio

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. Federico Ruzza

20. Giovanni Licata

21. Gugliemo Palazzani

22. Carlo Canna

23. Jayden Hayward