20 Nov 2009

Mallet makes five changes to Italian starting fifteen

5:55 am on 20 November 2009

The Italian rugby coach Nick Mallett has made five changes to the starting lineup that caused the All Blacks problems last weekend, for Sunday's test against world champions South Africa in Udine.

The Former Springboks coach Mallett has revamped his backs with three switches.

Matteo Pratichetti replaces winger Kaine Robertson, Alberto Sgarbi takes Gonzalo Canale's place at outside centre after and Simon Picone comes in at scrum half to form a half-back partnership with rugby league-convert Craig Gower.

Mallett has also tinkered with the pack that gave the All Blacks forwards a torrid time in the scrum in last weekends 20-6 defeat at a packed San Siro stadium in Milan.

Flanker Simone Favaro, who was impressive in Italy's June tour of Australia and New Zealand, will take Mauro Bergamasco's place in the back row.

The experienced Fabio Ongaro gets the nod ahead of Leonardo Ghiraldini at hooker.

Quintin Geldenhuys and Carlo Antonio Del Fava, both of whom were born in South Africa, keep their places in the second row.

By ringing the changes Mallett may be seeking to keep some of his forces fresh for the Azzurri's clash with Samoa a week later.

The test in the central town of Ascoli Piceno is the only one in a demanding series that his side have a realistic chance of winning.