Italy coach Nick Mallett has handed Benetton Treviso’s Kristopher Burton the number 10 shirt for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener against Ireland at Rome’s Flaminio Stadium.
The Australia-born fly-half replaces Craig Gower, who is out for the entire tournament with a knee injury, while Burton’s club team-mate Alessandro Zanni will replace veteran Mauro Bergamasco at number seven.
Bergamasco is out of the Six Nations having suffered a shoulder injury back in November.
Mallett has also handed Benetton Treviso scrum-half Edoardo Gori a place in his starting XV.
The 20-year-old made a big impression against Fiji in Italy’s final Test of last year, which the Azzurri won 24-16.
Italy will be bolstered by the return of captain Sergio Parisse, who missed last year’s Six Nations with a serious knee injury and watched as Italy suffered four defeats in five games.
Italy: L McLean (Treviso); A Masi (Racing Metro), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), A Sgarbi (Treviso), M Bergamasco (Racing Metro); K Burton (Treviso), E Gori (Treviso); S Perugini (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), S Dellape (Racing Metro), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), J Sole (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).
Replacements: F Ongaro (Aironi), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), C Del Fava (Aironi), V Bernabo (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), L Orquera (Brive), G Garcia (Treviso).