Rugby: Italy make eight changes

Italy rugby coach Jacques Brunel has made eight changes to the side that beat Tonga 28-23 last weekend for the Test against the All Blacks at Rome's Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

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

Tommaso Iannone, who made his debut at right wing in Brescia last week, makes way for Giovambattista Venditti while Mirco Bergamasco goes in at left wing for Luke McLean, who drops to the bench.

Luciano Orquera is at first-five for Kris Burton with Edoardo Gori reclaiming the halfback 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 replacement in the edgy win over Tonga, starts in place of Lorenzo Cittadini.

The big surprise is Minto, one of eight starters from Benetton Treviso, who will line up against the All Blacks for the first time.

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 (to North America).

"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.

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

All Blacks
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.

- AFP

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