Castrogiovanni back for Italy

2012-03-14 18:18

Rome - Leicester Tigers tight-head prop Martin Castrogiovanni returns to the Italy side for Saturday's Six Nations wooden-spoon finale against Scotland at the Stadio Olimpico.

The popular front-rower was one of six changes announced by French coach Jacques Brunel on Wednesday.

Young backs Giovanbattista Venditti, Tomasso Benvenuti and Edoardo Gori also reclaimed positions in a youthful backline.

Experienced former Gloucester captain Marco Bortolami came back in at lock while Robert Barbieri regained his place at flanker.

Brunel explained these changes were about trying to find his best team.

"It's partially due to what's happened so far, it's our last game and we're trying to put out what we think is the best team so they can fight," he said.

"It s more like the team that played against England."

That was the one game in which Italy managed to remain competitive throughout and they ended losing only by four points.

It was also their only other home game in the competition.

But while Italy have earned many plaudits for trying to produce a more expansive and ambitious game than under Brunel's predecessor Nick Mallett, they have been essentially well beaten in all three away games.

And Brunel admits that his side have not lived up to his expectations so far.

"We have spirit but we lack certainty in our game, we're still beneath the bar we set ourselves," he said.

"We're still too timid, we've got too much fear, we need to find synthesis between the forwards and the backs.

"But I'm asking for a slightly different organisation and we still need to oil the cogs.

"But there you go, we've in the right spirit. It's just that there isn't much time as we only have six test matches before the next Six Nations tournament.

"We don't have the time to try things out if that doesn't work, we have to move on quickly to something constructive."

Australian-born back Luke McLean and South African-born second rower Cornelius van Zyl were two of those dropped and they miss out altogether.

It means lock Joshua Furno, who was born in Australia but brought up in Italy, gets the chance to possibly earn a second cap as he starts on the bench.

Italy and Scotland have both lost all four tournament matches so far and are playing to avoid the wooden spoon, which the Azzurri have finished with in nine out of their 12 seasons in the Six Nations.

Italy spent most of their last game against Wales in Cardiff on the back foot putting in a heroic defensive effort.

But this time Brunel expects his side to show more going forward, although he insists balance is the key.

"It's always about balance, if we want to play a lot we must have the ball," he said.

"But if you play a lot you must not lose it because it's dangerous, but at the same time we don't just attack, we have to defend at least half the time.

"So we must be good in defence because if you're not then you don't get back the ball.

"We must find the balance for all that but for the moment we don't have that balance."


Italy: 15 Andrea Masi (Aironi); 14 Giovanbattista Venditti (Aironi), 13 Tommaso Benvenuti (Treviso), 12 Gonzalo Canale (Clermont/FRA), 11 Mirco Bergamasco (Racing-Metro/FRA); 10  Kris Burton (Aironi), 9 Edoardo Gori (Aironi); 8 Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA/capt), 7 Robert Barbieri (Treviso), 6 Alessandro Zanni (Treviso); 5 Marco Bortolami (Aironi), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (Aironi); 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester/ENG), 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso), 1 Andrea Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro/FRA)

Substitutes: 16 Tommaso D'Apice (Aironi), 17 Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso), 18 Joshua Furno (Aironi), 19 Simone Favaro (Aironi), 20 Manoa Vosawai (Treviso), 21 Tobias (Tobie) Botes (Treviso), 22 Giulio Toniolatti (Aironi)

Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Max Evans, 13-Nick De Luca, 12-Graeme Morrison, 11-Sean Lamont, 10-Greig Laidlaw, 9-Mike Blair, 8-David Denton, 7-Ross Rennie, 6-John Barclay, 5-Jim Hamilton, 4- Richie Gray, 3-Geoff Cross, 2-Ross Ford (Captain), 1-Allan Jacobsen.

Substitutes: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Euan Murray, 18-Alastair Kellock, 19-Richie Vernon, 20-Chris Cusiter, 21-Ruaridh Jackson, 22-Jack Cuthbert.