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Brunel makes two changes to Italy team

Updated: February 08, 2012, 08:29


MILAN(AP) Italy veterans Marco Bortolami and Gonzalo Canale were recalled as the only changes in the starting team for the Six Nations match against England at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Coach Jacques Brunel largely kept faith on Wednesday with the side which played well despite losing 30-12 to France in Brunel's debut last weekend.

Bortolami replaced Cornelius van Zyl as Quintin Geldenhuys' partner in the second row, and will pick up his 90th cap, while Canale was brought out of the reserves to inside center in place of Alberto Sgarbi. Canale has 73 caps.

"We haven't changed the team much,'' Brunel said. "We've tried to keep its spine to preserve some continuity, to see if we will be able to continue on the path we've started. Certainly at this level you can't make mistakes like the tackles that we missed against France, but I'm sure that that was just an anomaly because that's not our characteristics.

"It will be a very tough match, against a very strong defense. Against France we had obvious problems in contact points, against England it will be even more difficult. They have changed their coach and players, but their characteristics are always the same; experience up front, strong flyhalf and scrumhalf, speed throughout.''

There were three changes in the reserves. Benetton Treviso captain Antonio Pavanello could make his sixth appearance for Italy, two and a half years after he last donned an Azzurri shirt against Samoa.

Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco came back into the 22, while Crociati center Luca Morisi could make his debut.

No. 8 Sergio Parisse will captain for the 37th time, tying the national record of Massimo Giovanelli and Bortolami.

Italy has never beaten England in 17 tests between them, although Brunel's side will be spurred on by playing in front of 70,000 fans at a sold out Stadio Olimpico for the first time, rather than at the usual 32,000-seater Stadio Flaminio.

"It will be incredible,'' Brunel added. "I think that this could be the key moment for Italian rugby. If we manage to win, we can go onto great things for the squad and the entire rugby movement.''

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Italy: Andrea Masi, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean, Kristopher Burton, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (captain), Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zannni, Marco Bortolami, Quintin Geldenhuys, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lo Cicero. Reserves: Tommaso D'Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello, Mauro Bergamasco, Fabio Semenzato, Tobias Botes, Luca Morisi.

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