Conor O’Shea was not prepared to take any chances on players who were not fully fit after making five changes to his Italy side to take on Ireland.
While Sergio Parisse was ruled out earlier this week, Sebastian Negri was a later withdrawal as he struggles with illness.
And O’Shea explained that he did not want to take risks, particularly with Maxime Mbandà and Jimmy Tuivaiti coming in after impressing for Zebre in league action last weekend.
He said: “We have chosen players who will be physically 100 per cent. That is why Sebastian Negri is not in the squad, he had a high fever and we need players who are physically ready.
“Last week in Viadana, Mbandà and Tuivaiti played well for Zebre: there is a lot of depth in this position.
“If we manage to work on the things we can control, we can be very competitive against Ireland. The intensity needs to be high at all times – this is the right path, I’m sure of that, but the results need to come too.”
For Mbandà it is a first appearance for Italy since the 2018 following a torn ACL and a long recovery period.
The flanker, 26, believes he is now playing better than he ever had previously, and is keen to show that against Ireland.
He explained: “It was a very hard year during my rehabilitation. I had to work really hard and now I find myself in better form compared with before.
“I have waited a long time for this and will give 100 per cent to try to get a positive result, along with my teammates.
“We have worked hard this week and studied Ireland who have a very unpredictable game. The fans will be our 16th man on the pitch.”
One of the other changes sees Federico Ruzza come into the starting line-up in place of David Sisi, a reward for some fine performances off the bench so far.
The versatile Benetton forward was instrumental in the Italian fightback on the opening weekend in Scotland, and offers plenty of mobility ahead of his first Test start.
He added: “It’s my first start, it’s a dream I’ve had since I was a child. This will be a very hard game where we can’t leave anything to chance and give it everything for 80 minutes.
“In this game all 23 players are important: everyone has to be ready to add something and if necessary, change the course of the game.”