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Italy head coach Franco Smith has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's Six Nations visit of Ireland to the Stadio Olimpico. 

It includes Australian-born winger Monty Ioane who scored the first of their two tries in the 41-18 defeat to England a fortnight ago.

Zebre centre Carlo Canna will earn his 50th cap for the Azzurri.

While Ireland are hoping to pick up a first win of this season's Six Nations, the Italians are keen to avoid a thirtieth consecutive defeat in the competition.

While talk continues that their seat at the Six Nations table is no longer safe, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes Italy are still worthy.

"Well, I certainly feel that they're good enough to stay in the competition long-term," he said, "Because I can see the progress that Franco's making with them.

"I think they're certainly heading in the right direction.

"He has a newish group there, that he's started with again, which takes some time. And he's already seen the fruits of that.

Farrell added, "With different combinations that take time to gel they're only going to get better."

The Ireland chief has been impressed with what he's seen from Italy so far this year.

The defeat to England was preceded by an opening round 50-10 loss to France in Rome.

"You hear some reports, and you look at a couple of scorelines you can make it out to be something that it's completely not," Farrell said.

"In the French game, I thought the French were very clinical. Italy tried to show their brand of rugby, like an expansive game etc.

"France doing what they do - good set-piece, good territory, good kicking territories-type game, then trying to hit them on the counter.

"They had quite a few chances, but they converted most of them, so they were very clinical.

"I thought Italy certainly improved the week after. I thought the English found it tough for them to break down.

"They've got some really dangerous backs - strong, fast, dangerous backs - who like to play in an expansive way.

"Again, we have to go over there with the right attitude.

"A couple of years ago, I didn't feel we got the blend right over there, and it came across as sloppy at times.

"Last year at the Aviva I thought our attitude was spot-on, and hopefully we can do the same in Rome on Saturday."

Italy team v Ireland: 

15. Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 5 caps)
14. Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
13. Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
12. Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 49 caps)
11. Montanna Ioane (Benetton Rugby, 3 caps)
10. Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps)
9. Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps)

1. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club, 44 caps)
2. Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club, 34 caps) - captain
3. Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
4. Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby, 13 caps)
5. David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club, 13 caps)
6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 30 caps)
7. Johan Meyer (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps)
8.  Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)

16. Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)
17. Cherif Traore (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
18. Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 12 caps)
19. Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
20. Maxime Mbanda '(Zebre Rugby Club, 26 caps)
21. Callum Braley (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
22. Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 6 caps)
23. Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club, 28 caps)

For more of these stories, visit

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