Italy name side to climb 'rugby's Everest'

CLARE FALLON
Last updated 07:31 16/11/2012
Jacques Brunel
Getty Images
RUGBY'S EVEREST: Italy coach Jacques Brunel.

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Francesco Minto will make his debut for Italy against New Zealand as one of eight changes to the team for a match coach Jacques Brunel compares to climbing Everest.

"New Zealand are the Everest of rugby," Brunel said. "We are climbers who have to scale the most difficult mountain without fear, ready to brave the cold and the bad weather. Otherwise, we might as well stay calmly on Mont Blanc."

World champions New Zealand have beaten Italy 13 times in as many meetings and Brunel said the game at Rome's Olympic Stadium would show how much progress his team had made.

"For us it will be an important game to find out what our level is compared to the strongest team in the world, whether we are far from them or close," the Frenchman said.

"The All Blacks are the stiffest test to show us in which direction our work needs to go."

As well as adding Minto to the back row, Brunel will welcome back wing Mirco Bergamasco, who missed Saturday's 28-23 defeat of Tonga with a muscle problem.

Wing Giovambattista Venditti, who was on the bench against Tonga, will play and Luciano Orquera will start for the first time under Brunel, replacing Kristopher Burton.

Captain Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni will earn their 90th caps in the game.

Italy: Andrea Masi, Giovambattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco, Luciano Orquera, Edoardo Gori, Sergio Parisse (captain), Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni, Francesco Minto, Antonio Pavanello, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lo Cicero. Reserves: Davide Giazzon, Alberto de Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Mauro Bergamasco, Robert Barbieri, Tobias Botes, Luke McLean.

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