FUKUOKA – Italy announced 10 changes on Monday for its Rugby World Cup match against Canada and rested talismanic captain Sergio Parisse, with an eye on sterner tests against New Zealand and South Africa.
Lock Dean Budd will skipper the side in Parisse’s absence in Fukuoka on Thursday, as the Azzurri look to improve on their unconvincing 47-22 win against Namibia.
Only Jayden Hayward, Luca Bigi, Tommaso Allan, Tommaso Benvenuti and Braam Steyn keep their places and coach Conor O’Shea has also tinkered with the back line, moving Hayward from fullback to inside center.
The halfback combination of Callum Braley and Tommaso Allan is the 13th different pairing used by Italy since the 2015 World Cup.
Even O’Shea admitted after Sunday’s Namibia match: “We’ll have to move on from that pretty quickly. It wasn’t very pretty. There’s too many errors in it.”
Conditions were tricky at Hanazono Stadium, with the weather ranging from bright sunshine to torrential rain as the players were unlucky enough to catch the very edge of a typhoon swirling to Japan’s west.
Italy should have too much firepower for Canada which is ranked No. 22 in the world, the second-lowest side at the Rugby World Cup after Namibia.
Italy is aiming to make it into the quarterfinals for the first time in its history and is targeting an Oct. 4 clash against heavyweight South Africa as its chance to climb out of the pool.