With the likes of Wales taking the opportunity against the Azzurri to rest many Ireland have decided to only change players in the pack with the back-line the same as two weeks ago.
Dave Kilcoyne and Sean Cronin come into the front row in place of Cian Healy and Rory Best respectively. Remarkably this will be Cronin’s 68th test but his first ever 6 Nations start. Completing the trio is the ever-reliable Tadhg Furlong.
Behind them Ultan Dillane slots joins Quinn Roux, after his brilliant performance off the bench against the Scots and his man of the match performance for Connacht last weekend.
In the back-row, Peter O’Mahony is captain with Best on the bench, with Sean O’Brien on the opposite side, while Jordi Murphy has a chance at eight as Jack Conan is suffering from abdominal tightness.
The backs are the same as two weeks ago against Scotland with Conor Murray at scrum-half and Johnny Sexton at fly-half, with Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell continuing their partnership in the centre.
Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls remain on the wings, with Rob Kearney finishing up the XV.
On the bench Ireland have some serious firepower with Jack McGrath, Iain Henderson and Andrew Conway returning to the squad. While Jack Carty could make his 6 Nations debut if he comes on.
Here's the Ireland team to play Italy on Sunday in Round 3 of the @SixNationsRugby Championship.#TeamOfUs #ITAvIRE #ShoulderToShoulder pic.twitter.com/RdF7JNduIF— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 22, 2019
The Italian’s who are missing star captain Sergio Parisse, announced their team earlier and Ireland will have to be wary of some key men in the line-up.
Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, and Simone Ferrari start in the front-row, with Federico Ruzza and Dean Budd behind them.
The pack is made up by Jimmy Tuivaiti, Mazime Mbanda, and the hugely impressive Abraham Steyn, who will look to lead the team in the absence of Parisse.
Tito Tebaldi is at scrum-half and will be partnered by Tomasso Allan at fly-half, while Luca Morisi slots in beside the electric Michele Campagnaro in the centre.
Angelo Esposito and Edoardo Padovani are on the wings with Jayden Hayward making up the XV at full-back.
Irish-born Ian McKinley may have a part to play from the bench if he gets on.
#Italrugby, annunciata la formazione in campo domenica con l'Irlanda ➡ https://t.co/6YDWGkP35E#ITAvIRE #insieme @SeiNazioniRugby @SixNationsRugby pic.twitter.com/0aXk5IpSIE— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 22, 2019
It had been questioned whether there would be a vast amount of changes to the team that won last time out, but it seems as though there wasn’t much choice for Ireland.
Head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed that Joey Carbery has a slight hamstring problem and therefore is unable to take part in the game.
As mentioned above Conan is injured too, while Robbie Henshaw is still getting back up to top nick and Jordan Larmour injured his finger during the week and they are resting him.
Schmidt explained that even if Carbery was fit Sexton would have probably started ahead of him in Rome.
“I think we probably would have started Johnny anyway, to be honest. He’s had very little game time since the Munster game in December, whereas Joey has been really resilient this season and has had plenty of game time,” he said.
He also told the media how some players have earned their way into the team, while saying others deserved a rest.
“Some of it (the selection) is to offer an opportunity, to offer a reward to what we’ve seen in training so far like Dave Kilcoyne and Ultan Dillane – it gives us a little bit more confidence when Ultan goes back to Connacht last week and get the man of the match. Across the board those guys have earned their opportunity – and it gives us the opportunity to give some guys the weekend off,” he added.
The two sides last met in November when Ireland ran out 54-7 winners in Chicago.
Ireland are currently fourth in the table after the opening two rounds and will be looking to build on their win in Murrayfield last time out while Italy will be hoping to avoid a 20th straight defeat in the competition when they host the reigning champions.
Scotland name strong team for Wales
Issued by SRU
Fresh from securing the European and Premiership double with his club Exeter Chiefs, Hogg plays at full back as one of five changes to the starting XV from the Scotland side that defeated Georgia 48-7 last week.
Finn Russell lines up at fly-half after winning his 50th Scotland cap in the Georgia victory at BT Murrayfield on Friday night, and is joined in the half-backs by Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price.
In the back division, Blair Kinghorn shifts to the wing from full-back and replaces Edinburgh teammate Duhan van de Merwe, who is named among the replacements. James Lang and Chris Harris continue their centre partnership after playing together against Georgia.
In the pack fellow Exeter Chief Jonny Gray comes into the second row and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson is selected at number 8 and will run out on his club ground on Saturday in Llanelli.Hooker Fraser Brown is named as Vice-Captain and packs down with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in an unchanged front row.
Scott Cummings also retains his starting place to partner Gray in the second row.Edinburgh pair Jamie Ritchie, also a Vice Captain, and Hamish Watson make up the back-row with Thomson.
In the replacements Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele could make his Scotland debut if called into action.
Adam Hastings and van de Merwe complete the backline replacements. Townsend can also call upon the same front row of Oli Kebble, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan as featured in against Georgia, alongside Worcester Warrior Cornell du Preez and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis from the bench.
“As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Guinness Six Nations rugby again. We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend
“It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks. We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.
“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli. Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”
Wales XV announced for 6 Nations finale v Scotland.
Jones levelled the record last weekend but will take the honour for himself at Parc y Scarlets this weekend as Wales face Scotland in their re-arranged Guinness Six Nations finale (14.15 KO BBC & S4C).
At the other end of the international spectrum, Cardiff Blues back-row Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his first test appearance for Wales in a back-row alongside experienced Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.
European Champion and English Premiership winner Tomas Francis comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Carre and Ryan Elias.
In the backline Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar with Owen Watkin coming into the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies.
Liam Williams returns to the back-three to feature alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.
On the bench Sam Parry, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis provide the front-row replacements with Cory Hill and James Davies completing the forward contingent. Lloyd Williams comes straight into the matchday squad and provides backline cover along with Rhys Patchell and Nick Tompkins.
Issued by WRU
England name team to face Italy
Issued by Rugby Football Union
Ben Youngs is set to make his 100th cap for his country, at scrum half – becoming the second most capped England men’s player of all time after Jason Leonard (114 caps). Youngs made his senior team debut against Scotland in March 2010, where he came on as a substitute in the Calcutta Cup.
There is also a milestone for hooker Jamie George, who will make his 50th appearance for England this weekend.
Both players will lead England out at the Stadio Olimpico. England need a bonus-point win to put them in contention for winning the tournament, depending on the result in France v Ireland, which follows the game in Rome.
Jonny Hill will make his England debut at lock, while Owen Farrell, starting at fly-half, will captain the side. Henry Slade is at inside centre while Jonathan Joseph returns for England at outside centre.
George Furbank is named at full back with Jonny May and Anthony Watson on the wings.
Kyle Sinckler will play tighthead and Mako Vunipola loosehead in the front row. Maro Itoje completes the tight five.
Sam Underhill is named at open-side flanker with Tom Curry named at blind-side flanker and Billy Vunipola, returning from injury for England for the first time since the Rugby World Cup Final, at No. 8.
Uncapped trio Tom Dunn, Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley are named as finishers, alongside scrum half Dan Robson. Props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart also join the bench with Charlie Ewels and Ben Earl.
Jones said: “We’ve trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy.
“The team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do.
“We will also celebrate two major achievements in Ben Youngs and Jamie George’s cap milestones. It’s testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them.”
Italy v England is live on ITV 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live (4.45pm GMT KO).