Ireland seeking to maintain Grand Slam hopes

Ireland are unchanged for Italy at the Stadio Flaminio as they sought to generate further momentum for their RBS 6 Nations title bid.

Ireland are unchanged for Italy at the Stadio Flaminio as they sought to generate further momentum for their RBS 6 Nations title bid.

Head coach Declan Kidney kept faith with the same team that dispatched France 30-21 last weekend with centre Paddy Wallace and hooker Jerry Flannery recovering from eye and neck injuries.

Prop John Hayes made his 91st appearance, equalling Malcolm O’Kelly’s record as Ireland’s most capped player.

Italy restored Mauro Bergamasco to openside flanker following the disastrous experiment of playing him at scrum-half for the 36-11 defeat by England.

Italy: Masi, Robertson, Canale, M. Bergamasco, Pratichetti, McLean, Griffen, Perugini, Ongaro, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Reato, Zanni, M. Bergamasco, Parisse.

Replacements: Festuccia, Nieto, Del Fava, Sole, Toniolatti, Garcia, Bacchetti.

Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, B. O’Driscoll, P. Wallace, Fitzgerald, O’Gara, O’Leary, Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Ferris, D. Wallace, Heaslip.

Replacements: Best, Court, O’Kelly, Leamy, Stringer, D’Arcy, Murphy.

Referee: C White (RFU)

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