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Italy gambles on youth against All Blacks

AFP logoAFP 8/11/2016

Sergio Parisse is back in Italy colours to face the All Blacks. © REUTERS/Andrew Boyers Sergio Parisse is back in Italy colours to face the All Blacks. Italy's new coach Conor O'Shea has gambled on a youthful line-up sprinkled with a few old heads for his first home match in charge, against the All Blacks on Saturday.

The Irishman has handed Treviso's Giorgio Bronzini an international debut at scrum in an untested half-back partnership with Carlo Canna, who has only 12 caps to his name.

But he has also recalled skipper Sergio Parisse, who will win a record 120th cap in the back row, and veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, for whom it will be an 82nd international appearance.

Both men missed the summer tour of the Americas in which O'Shea's squad lost to Argentina but secured narrow victories over the United States and Canada.

Parisse will be breaking the appearances record he had shared with Martin Castrogiovanni.

The Argentinian-born prop has not played since being suspended by his French club Racing 92 earlier this year over an unauthorised party trip to Las Vegas.

Adding to the quotient of experience in the starting XV is Australian-born Luke Mclean, who also wins his 82nd cap, at inside centre.

O'Shea's back three of fullback Edoardo Padovani and wings Giulio Bisegni and Angelo Esposito have just 12 international appearances between them.

The second row combination of South African-born Andries Van Schalkyk and Marco Fuser is untried and flanker Maxime Mbanda will be making his first appearance on Italian soil after winning his first two caps against the USA and Canada.

It will be the 14th meeting between the two countries with New Zealand having won all the previous encounters.

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