Three changes for Italy rugby team

Italy rugby coach Jacques Brunel makes three changes for the Six Nations match at home to France on Sunday.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made three changes to the side that stunned Scotland at Murrayfield for Sunday's Six Nations clash against France at the Stadio Olimpico.

Andrea Masi, with 89 caps to his name, and Leonardo Sarto, who sat out the 22-19 win in Edinburgh, return to the inside centre and right wing positions respectively, while Fiji-born flanker Samuela Vunisa replaces injured Simone Favaro for only his second start of the campaign.

Elsewhere, Brunel has kept faith with the side that handed Scotland their third loss of the campaign with Kelly Haimona and Edoardo Gori sharing the half-back responsibilities for the fourth consecutive game of the tournament.

Captain and No.8 Sergio Parisse will claim a record 112th cap for Italy, overtaking Marco Bortolami's current record of 111 as Italy go in search of only their fourth win in 36 games against the French.

However, there is still no place in the match-day 23 for Toulon prop Martin Castrogiovanni.

So far Italy have struggled against the stronger nations in the tournament, suffering a 26-3 loss to Ireland in Rome and a 47-17 defeat by England at Twickenham.

However, the Azzurri will be looking to start strongly against a French side looking to make amends for what has been a mediocre campaign so far.

Philippe Saint-Andre's side suffered a 20-13 defeat to Wales in Paris last time out, were beaten 18-11 by Ireland in Dublin and only scraped a last-gasp 15-8 win against the Scots in Paris.

"We could have kept the same side that beat Scotland, but players were out because of injury and we wanted to insert some more power and experience in midfield against the French," Brunel said.

"I was happy with what the three-quarters did against Scotland, breaking the gainline and their work down the wings.

"France have one win and two defeats, like us.

"There's a bit more confidence for us and a little less for them, but they remain favourites all the same."

Italy team (15-1)

Luke McLean; Leonardo Sarto, Luca Morisi, Andrea Masi, Giovanbattista Venditti; Kelly Haimona, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Samuela Vunisa, Francesco Minto; Josh Furno, George Biagi; Dario Chistolini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Matias Aguero

Replacements: Andrea Manici, Alberto De Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Barbini, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tommaso Allan, Enrico Bacchin

Source: AAP

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