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Boks face resurgent Italy

The Boks will have their work cut out for them against a strong Italian team.

The Springboks. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Italian team has made seven changes since playing Ireland in March in the Six Nations.

Thirty three-year-old flyhalf Alberto di Bernardo makes his debut, whilst lock Marco Bortolami returns from injury.

Flank Alessandro Zanni starts in his 49th consecutive Test.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's team will have their work cut out for them when they face Italy at Kings Park on Saturday.

The Italians arrive in South Africa off the back of a relatively successful Six Nations campaign that saw them finish fourth ahead of France and Ireland.

The Italians have a world class scrummager in Martin Castrogiovanni and one of the modern game's great eighthman in Sergio Parisse. He will be the key figure if the Azzuri are to breach the Bok defensive line.

His opposite number Pierre Spies, while returning to form leading a stellar Blue Bulls team, is not known for his high defensive work rate.

The Azzuri have traditionally based their success on a tactically sound kicking game, something that Meyer is all too aware of.

Meyer has gone with a very unfamiliar back three with Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson and Willie le Roux making up the back trio.

Le Roux has been playing most of his rugby at wing for the Cheetahs this season, and taking on the number 15 jersey could add pressure to a player who's eager to impress on his Bok debut.

If the Italians can manage to exploit the relatively inexperienced Bok back three, it could turn into a difficult afternoon for the men in green and gold.

The scrum is another area where the Boks will want to be mindful of the Italian presence. Jannie du Plessis is the only recognised tighthead prop in the team and Coenie Oosthuizen hasn't been convincing whenever he's packed on the right hand side of the scrum.

With Alberto De Marchi, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Lorenzo Cittadini and Castrogiovanni on the bench, it will be a stern test for the Bok front row.

The Boks will have Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss and du Plessis setting up front, but don't have much cover off the bench in the number three jersey.

Italian coach Jacques Brunel says that they're expecting a hugely physical battle, which will be a massive test after a very long 11 month-long season.

  1. Andrea Masi. 14. Giovanbattista Venditti. 13.Luca Morisi, 12. Alberto Sgarbi. 11. Luke Mclean. 10. Alberto Di Bernardo. 9. Edoardo Gori, 8. Sergio Parisse. 7. Robert Barbieri. 6. Alessandro Zanni. 5. Marco Bortolami. 4. Antonio Pavanello. 3. Lorenzo Cittadini. 2. Leonardo Ghiraldini. 1. Alberto De Marchi. Replacements: 16. Davide Giazzon. 17. Matias Aguero. 18. Martin Castrogiovanni. 19.Valerio Bernabo. 20. Joshua Furno. 21.Tobias Botes. 22. Luciano Orquera. 23.Tommaso Iannone.

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