Campo starts for the Azzurri

campo test.jpg
Michele Campagnaro is one of four changes Italy have made to their side ahead of Saturday's Test clash with Japan. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs back Michele Campagnaro will start for Italy against Japan in Oita on Saturday.

The talented back, who is set to win his 33rd Test cap, is one of four changes Conor O'Shea has made to the Azzurri side that lost to Scotland in Rome back in March.

The 25-year-old is the only change to the back-line, where he replaces Giulio Bisegni at outside centre. This will be Campagnaro’s first appearance at Test level in 2018 after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

In other changes, Abraham Steyn comes in for Sergio Parisse at No.8, while Giovanni Licata takes over from Jake Polledri on the openside flank and Tiziano Pasquali replaces Simone Ferrari at tighthead prop.

With Parisse being rested for the two-Test series, veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini takes over the captiancy role.

Speaking about the challenge awaiting his side, O'Shea said: "Our opponents come from a positive period, they play at home, they have the habit of playing together in Super Rugby.

"We know that the next two matches that await us will be very, very demanding and every Test match represents a great challenge for us.

"We have made important steps forwards in recent years and now we have to put pressure on ourselves and translate this work into successes. I asked the players to focus on their individual goals and, as always, to think about the performance before the result, but we must not forget that we are here to win."


15. Matteo Minozzi (Zebre, 8 caps)
14. Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton, 50 caps)
13. Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs, 32 caps)
12. Tommaso Castello (Zebre, 10 caps)
11. Mattia Bellini (Zebre, 13 caps)
10. Tommaso Allan (Benetton, 38 caps)
9. Marcello Violi (Zebre, 13 caps)
1. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre, 25 caps)
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Stade Toulousain, 94 caps, capt)
3. Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton, 7 caps)
4. Alessandro Zanni (Benneton, 104 caps)
5. Dean Budd (Benetton, 11 caps)
6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton, 7 caps)
7. Giovanni Licata (Flame Gold, 5 caps)
8. Abraham Steyn (Benetton, 19 caps)


16. Luca Bigi (Benetton, 9 caps)
17. Federico Zani (Benetton, 6 caps)
18. Giosuè Zilocchi (Patarò Calvisano, uncapped)
19. George Biagi (Zebre, 21 caps)
20. Marco Fuser (Benetton, 27 caps)
21. Jake Polledri (Gloucester, 1 cap)
22. Tito Tebaldi (Benetton, 23 caps)
23. Jayden Hayward (Benetton, 8 caps)

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