Six Nations: Italy boss Smith names unchanged side to face Ireland

Italy boss Franco Smith has named an unchanged side to face Ireland in the Six Nations. Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Italy coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged side for the visit of Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations match.

Young half-back pair Stephen Varney, 19, and Paolo Garbisi, 20, are again entrusted by Smith, with Juan Ignacio Brex earning his third cap at centre alongside Carlo Canna, who will reach a half century of appearances for the Azzurri.

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Italy have lost 29 Six Nations matches in a row stretching back to a win over Scotland in 2015 and firm favourites to pick up a sixth successive wooden spoon in this year's competition.

Smith, though, sees progression in his young side.

"We worked a lot on ourselves focusing on our game plan," Smith told a news conference on Thursday after keeping faith with the XV beaten 41-18 by England at Twickenham.

"Against Ireland we aim to show the same attitude we showed in the last match with the aim of taking another step forward in the growth path."

Ireland are still searching for their first victory in this year's Championship after losses to Wales and France, who beat Italy 50-10 in their opening game.

Italy team

Starting XV:

Jacopo Trulla, Luca Sperandio, Juan Ignacio Brex, Carlo Canna, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney, Michele Lamaro, Johan Meyer, Sebastian Negri, David Sisi, Marco Lazzaroni, Marco Riccioni, Luca Bigi (C), Andrea Lovotti.


Gianmarco Lucchesi, Cherif Traore, Giosuè Zilocchi, Niccolò Cannone, Maxime Mbanda, Callum Braley, Federico Mori, Mattia Bellini.