The teams for the 2021 Six Nations third round match between Italy and Ireland, which kicks of at 2:15 UK/IRE at the Stadio Olimpico were announced yesterday. The match will be broadcast live on ITV Sport.
The game features the bottom two teams in the competition with both sides looking their first win in the championship. Ireland have picked up a couple of losing bonus points in the opening rounds but Italy are yet to register a match point.
Both teams go into the bottom of the table clash under a fair amount of pressure, though some of that is likely eased due to the France v Scotland match being postponed, which somewhat devalues this tournament and gives the usual social media professional whingers something else to wine about.
To be fair though, neither side has had a great season. Italy appear to be on another rebuilding phase and I think they can claim this with some justification this time round. It is a young squad and with only 226 caps amongst it’s unchanged starting XV it is the least experienced side in the competition.
Despite claiming to be in a rebuilding phase Ireland continue to look to their old heads to get them out of their slump. They pull in another whopping 483 caps in their staring line up and a massive 270 in their reserves. The total of 773 caps in the Ireland squad is a factor of 2.3 times that of the Italian’s total of 331.
While Italy have stuck with the same players that lost to England last time out Ireland , who are probably under most pressure, have made six changes to their starting XV. In come Jordan Larmour, Jonathan Sexton (C), Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, James Ryan and Will Connors. I find it hard to justify what we are going to find out about Sexton and Kilcoyne but I’m not under the pressure that Andy Farrell is under, but it must be mighty as he hasn’t even been named in the team announcement!
I have actually enjoyed the Italian matches this season, perhaps it’s because I’m not wholly invested in their results, they do seem to be trying to play to their strengths and they have scored more tries in this competition than Ireland who continue to look stale in that department. Unfortunately the Italian defence can be “loose” at times, but that might come over the next year.
Personally, I don’t think we’ll get to see much different in the Ireland attack until Jacob Stockdale rejoins the ranks alongside Hugo Keenan, and Larmour in the back three and Garry Ringrose in the centre.
The FRU Predicts. The bookies are expecting Ireland to win by more than 22 points but, even though Ireland blew my £5 treble in the last round by losing by less than I thought against France, I think they will struggle to stay more than three full scores ahead if Italy get a couple of tries.
Ireland should win, and they should win with some comfort, I just hope they win playing some rugby and not by trying to bash their way through the Italian defence.
|Jacopo Trulla||15||Hugo Keenan|
|Luca Sperandio||14||Jordan Larmour|
|Juan Ignacio Brex||13||Garry Ringrose|
|Carlo Canna||12||Robbie Henshaw|
|Montanna Ioane||11||James Lowe|
|Paolo Garbisi||10||Jonathan Sexton (C)|
|Stephen Varney||9||Jamison Gibson Park|
|Michele Lamaro||1||Dave Kilcoyne|
|Johan Meyer||2||Ronan Kelleher|
|Sebastian Negri||3||Tadhg Furlong|
|David Sisi||4||Iain Henderson|
|Marco Lazzaroni||5||James Ryan|
|Marco Riccioni||6||Tadhg Beirne|
|Luca Bigi (C)||7||Will Connors|
|Andrea Lovotti||8||CJ Stander|
|Gianmarco Lucchesi||16||Rob Herring|
|Cherif Traore||17||Cian Healy|
|Giosuè Zilocchi||18||Andrew Porter|
|Niccolò Cannone||19||Ryan Baird|
|Maxime Mbanda||20||Jack Conan|
|Callum Braley||21||Craig Casey|
|Federico Mori||22||Billy Burns|
|Mattia Bellini||23||Keith Earls|