Italy vs. Scotland preview: Italy begins preparations with home bout against Scotland
Talisman Captain Sergio Parisse has been omitted from the Italy team for their first World Cup warm-up game against Scotland on Saturday.
Zebre Lock Quintin Geldenhuys, who has won 54 Caps, will skipper the Azzurri in the absence of flanker Parisse who has been left out due to him suffering with flu.
Italy head coach Jacques Brunel has also decided to hand a start to outside-centre Tommaso Benvenuti, who has won 30 caps, which will be his first in two years. He is joined in centre with Gonzalo Garcia, who has won 35 caps, to make up an experienced midfield partnership.
Vern Cotter has made 11 changes to the Scotland team that lost narrowly in Ireland last weekend in Dublin for Saturday’s trip to Italy. This involves debuts for trio John Hardie, Rory Hughes and Stuart McInally
The Scotland head coach has also named lock Grant Gilchrist, 25, as Captain as he wins his ninth cap this weekend with last Saturdays Skipper Herny Pyrgos dropping to the bench.
The New Zealander will be eager to build momentum ahead of next month’s start to the global tournament in England. The game is also important to the Scot’s due to them crashing to a Six Nations whitewash earlier this year before losing their opening warm-up Test to Ireland last weekend.
Scotland will face the Italy again at Murrayfield on Saturday 29 August after which Cotter will announce who is in his 31-man squad for the World Cup.
The Scots then take on France before their opening match against Japan in Gloucester on 23rd September while Italy open their World Cup when they take on Les Bleus on September 19th at Twickenham.
Of the eight games played in Italy the hosts have won five and Scotland have won three.
This Saturday will mark 18 months to the day since an acutely timed Duncan Weir drop-goal led Scotland to a 21-20 win over Italy in Rome.
It’s not the first time Gilchrist has taken the Scotland Captaincy after leading his side to a 21-19 win over Argentina in June 2014 before a 55-6 drubbing at the hands of South Africa.
Scotland will be looking for revenge following their shock 22-19 defeat to Italy during the Six Nations in 2015 and after a positive display last week in Ireland they should be able to get a result.Scotland by 7
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovambattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani; 1 Matias Aguero, 2 Davide Giazzon, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 5 Valerio Bernabo, 6 Francesco Minto, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 8 Samuela Vunisa,
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Mauro Bergamasco, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luke McLean
Scotland: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Stuart McInally, 3 Mike Cusack, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 John Hardie, 8 Adam Ashe.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Damien Hoyland.