Conor O’Shea will name his team for the final round of the NatWest 6 Nations on Thursday with Italy looking to finish on a high against Scotland in Rome.
The Azzurri are still searching for a first win of the campaign, and return home for a first game at the Stadio Olimpico since the opening game against England.
And following a slow start in Cardiff, O’Shea will be hoping his side get out of the blocks quicker on Super Saturday, with the Irishman due to announce his team at 12.30pm. BACK-ROW OPTIONS With Maxime Mbanda ruled out of the game, O’Shea will have to change his openside flanker for the third time in the campaign.
Abraham Steyn and Renato Giammarioli have already started in the position, and the former returned to the squad this week.
He would be the most experienced contender to come into the side, although Giovanni Licata, the former Italy Under-20 captain, was the bench option in Cardiff.
Uncapped Jake Polledri, who has been a standout for Gloucester this year, could also come into contention for his first cap.
Whichever way he goes, O’Shea is not short of options to start alongside breakout player Sebastian Negri and captain Sergio Parisse.
RETURN OF BONI Along with Steyn, Tommaso Boni made his return to the squad this week after missing the trip to Wales through injury.
In his absence, Giulio Bisegni stepped into a starting role, but Boni could slot back in alongside teammate and namesake Tommaso Castello.
The pair had started the first three games of the Championship together, and had done well in the absence of the injured Michele Campagnaro. O’SHEA WILD CARD O’Shea has been fairly consistent with his selection over the course of the Championship, with the only major changes coming in the front row where Andrea Lovotti and Leonardo Ghiraldini have alternated with Nicola Quaglio and Luca Bigi.
The Irishman could be tempted to mix that front row up again, while the likes of Carlo Canna and Jayden Hayward will also be pushing for a start having been used off the bench so far.