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Rugby | International Rugby

Italy make eight changes



Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made eight changes to the side that beat Tonga 28-23 last week ahead of Saturday's test against New Zealand's All Blacks at Rome's Olympic Stadium.

Italy have suffered defeat to the All Blacks in all 12 of their previous encounters but will be hoping their best available team can provide a stiffer challenge to the reigning world champions.

In the backs Tommaso Iannone, who made his debut at right wing last week, makes way for Giovambattista Venditti while Mirco Bergamasco, who has been nursing a sore back, returns at left wing for Luke McLean.

Luciano Orquera comes in at fly-half for Kris Burton with Edoardo Gori reclaiming the scrum half position from Tobias Botes, who is also among the replacements.

Among the forwards there were also four changes.

Simone Favaro returns to the starting XV in favour of Robert Barbieri at openside flanker while Francesco Minto takes Joshua Furno's place in the second row.

Antonio Pavanello replaces Quintin Geldenhuys at second row while tighthead prop Martin Castrogiovanni, a late replament in last week's edgy win over Tonga, starts in place of Lorenzo Cittadini.

The big surprise for Italy is Minto, who will line up against the All Blacks for the first time,

Brunel gave Minto, one of eight starters from Benetton Treviso, his chance to shine during the Six Nations and he replied by scoring two tries. He then missed the summer tour of North America with injury.

The French coach said: "We wanted to gauge the progress of the whole group and have a look at the players that we haven't seen yet, like Minto, who was injured for our summer tour.

"I think he can help us limit the All Blacks' movement, that's the idea, but that's not the only reason" he has been picked.

New Zealand beat Scotland 51-22 at Murrayfield last week but coach Steve Hansen has rung the changes.

Kieran Read will captain New Zealand for the first time after Hansen rested World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw, while star pivot Dan Carter was named on the bench in favour of understudy Aaron Cruden.

Liam Messam was called in as blindside flanker to replace Adam Thomson, banned for one match for stamping on the head of Scotland loose forward Alasdair Strokosch.

Veteran lock Ali Williams comes in at second row alongside Brodie Retallick, who replaces Sam Whitelock.

With the experimental centres pairing of Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith that faced Scotland unavailable due to injuries, Hansen turned to the experienced combination of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Injury also forced the bruised Israel Dagg into the reserves, opening the way for Beauden Barrett to earn his fourth cap.

Hansen said he was expecting a torrid test against Italy, particularly in the forwards, and he wanted an improved performance from the Scotland test.

"The team last week put a stake in the ground and while the performance was nowhere near perfect, there was some quality rugby played," he said.

"There is now an opportunity for this group to build on that."

The All Blacks are undefeated in 18 games and have not lost a test on a Northern Hemisphere tour since 2002, when England defeated them 31-28.

After Saturday's test, they play Wales on November 24 and England on December 1.

ITALY: Andrea Masi; Giovambattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco; Luciano Orquera, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse, Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni; Francesco Minto, Antonio Pavanello; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lo Cicero
Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Alberto De Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Mauro Bergamasco, Robert Barbieri, Tobias Botes, Luke McLean

NEW ZEALAND: Beauden Barrett; Hosea Gear, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Messam; Brodie Retallick, Ali Williams; Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Cory Jane.

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