Ireland resumed their interrupted RBS 6 Nations campaign determined to avoid a third successive defeat at the Aviva Stadium.
Declan Kidney’s side had been inactive since losing to Wales on February 5 following the postponement of their clash with France two weeks ago due to a frozen pitch.
An emphatic victory against Italy was essential if Ireland were to reignite their title ambitions and relieve some of the pressure on Kidney.
The Azzurri made four changes following their 19-15 defeat to England, the most notable of which saw Tobias Botes preferred ahead of Kristopher Burton at fly-half.
Ireland: R. Kearney, Bowe, Earls, D’Arcy, Trimble, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Ross, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Ferris, O’Brien, Heaslip. Replacements: Cronin, Court, Ryan, O’Mahony, Reddan, O’Gara, McFadden.
Italy: Masi, Venditti, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, McLean, Botes, Gori, Rizzo, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Zanni, Barbieri, Parisse. Replacements: D’Apice, Staibano, Pavanello, Favaro, Semenzato, Burton, Canale. Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)