Parisse planning to break France down from within

ITALY captain Sergio Parisse believes the Azzurri could have an advantage going into their RBS 6 Nations match against France today.

Parisse, who is on the books of Stade Francais, and seven others in the Italian starting XV, play club rugby in France.

“They are a great team but those of us that play in France know better the mentality of our rivals and their way of playing which could help us to anticipate their moves,” Parisse said.

While admitting there is an extra edge for the French-based Italians going into the match since they will square off against familiar faces, Parisse said: “It’s not more important than any other match and it doesn’t mean that we will be more motivated than before.”

Italy coach Nick Mallett has made seven changes to the team that lost to Wales, with Racing-Metro Paris star Andrea Masi replacing Luke McLean at full-back.

The Azzurri are also bolstered by the return of centre Gonzalo Garcia after a one-year absence through injury.

Luciano Orquera replaces Kristopher Burton at number 10, while Racing-Metro Paris pair Andrea Lo Cicero and Carlo Festuccia will play from the start.

France travel to Rome needing a big win to keep alive their hopes of defending the Six Nations crown. Les Bleus lost 17-9 to England at Twickenham in their previous Test to concede their first defeat in the tournament after wins against Scotland and Ireland.

France are currently third in the standings, level on points with second-placed Wales and fourth-placed Ireland.

“It’s frustrating to see the English heading towards a probable Grand Slam but we have to continue in this tournament to look for an honourable finish,” said France coach Marc Lievremont. “It’s never easy to play in Italy, although we’ve shown we know how to approach these games over the last two Six Nations.

“But we saw that it wouldn’t have been scandalous had the Italians beaten Ireland and Wales.

“If they lose against us they’ll be playing to avoid the wooden spoon against Scotland so we have no doubt their players will be determined.”

Lievremont was forced to make a late change to his starting XV, one of just four all told for the clash at the Stadio Flaminio, with Clermont-Auvergne’s Morgan Parra replacing scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, who is out with a thigh injury.

ITALY: A Masi; T Benvenuti, G Canale, G Garcia, M Bergamasco; L Orquera, F Semenzato; A Lo Cicero, C Festuccia, M Castrogiovanni; S Dellape, C Del Fava; A Zanni, R Barbieri, S Parisse (capt).

Replacements: L Ghiraldini, S Perugini, Q Geldenhuys, P Derbyshire, P Canavosio, K Burton, L McLean.

FRANCE: M Medard; Y Huget, A Rougerie, Y Jauzion, V Clerc; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; S Marconnet, W Servat, N Mas; J Pierre, L Nallet; T Dusautoir (capt), J Bonnaire, S Chabal.

Replacements: G Guirado, L Ducalon, J Thion, I Harinordoquy, J Tomas, D Traille, C Poitrenaud.

Picture: Morgan Parra: Has replaced Dimitri Yachvili as France scrum-half.

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