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Captain Sergio Parisse, one of only three players to retain his place, stays at No.8 with full-back Andrea Masi and centre Tommaso Benvenuti the only other survivors from their opening Pool C game.
South African-born Mallett, who will step down as Italy coach after the World Cup, wants to keep his squad competitive and kept a close eye on the Russians in the build up to the tournament.
He said: "Russia played very close to the ruck, while the USA tried to play wide. It was difficult for them and they made a lot of errors.
"In fact it was more useful to watch Russia's pre-World Cup match with Northampton and their matches in the Churchill Cup to learn how they play.
“There is a lot of competition for the players for the last match against Ireland and I want to give all the players as much chance as possible before then.”
The Italians, not helped by Ireland’s defeat of Australia on Saturday, need to score as many tries as possible to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
They face Declan Kidney’s men on the final day of the pool stages in a potentially decisive encounter on October 2 but Parisse says they will not be ripping up their gameplan in order to go for broke.
He said: “We obviously must score as many tries as possible, not change our game plan, but keep the pace of play as high as possible.
“We knew before the Ireland versus Australia match that we would need to start scoring tries.
“We won't rush the way we play, but will try to keep the rhythm high to cause Russia difficulties.
“The match starts with the forwards and we have to have a good match.
“We need to put pressure on the scrums and the lineouts so that we can give Masi and Benvenuti the chance to show their ability.”
In a late change, outside-half Luciano Orquera fell victim to an ankle injury and has been replaced by centre Gonzalo Canale on the bench.
Italy team to play Russia:
15. Andrea Masi – Racing Metro
14. Giulio Toniolatti - Aironi
13. Tommaso Benvenuti – Benetton Treviso
12. Matteo Pratichetti - Aironi
11. Luke McLean – Benetton Treviso
10. Riccardo Bocchino – Aironi
9. Edoardo Gori – Benetton Treviso
1. Salvatore Perugini - Aironi
2. Fabio Ongaro - Aironi
3. Lorenzo Cittadini – Benetton Treviso
4. Quintin Geldenhuys - Aironi
5. Marco Bortolami - Aironi
6. Paul Derbyshire – Benetton Treviso
7. Mauro Bergamasco – Stade Francais
8. Sergio Parisse - Stade Francais
16. Tommaso D'Apice – Roma Olimpic
17. Martin Castrogiovanni – Leicester Tigers
18. Cornelius van Zyl – Benetton Treviso
19. Alessandro Zanni – Benetton Treviso
20. Pablo Canavosio - Aironi
21. Luciano Orquera - Brive
22. Alberto Sgarbi – Benetton Treviso