Treviso loosehead Michele Rizzo makes his Championship debut as part of a new prop pairing with Lorenzo Cittadini and Alberto Sgarbi comes in at centre.
It is at stand-off though where Brunel faced his greatest dilemma after Kris Burton failed to fire in the 19-15 defeat to England.
Botes, who was introduced as a replacement, was also horribly off target with his kicking as the Azzurri missed a crucial eight points with the boot - England's Owen Farrell in contrast kicked five from five.
South African-born Botes, who plays alongside Burton at Treviso at scrum-half, though has been handed the reins at fly-half as Italy search for their first ever Championship defeat of Ireland.
He will partner club teammate Sgarbi in the midfield with the experienced Gonzalo Canale dropping to the bench.
Meanwhile the Championship-ending injury for Martin Castrogiovanni has allowed Cittadini to make his first RBS 6 Nations appearance this year alongside Rizzo, with Aironi prop Fabio Staibano coming into the Azzurri squad for the first time since 2009.
Andrea Lo Cicero and Guilio Toniolatti travel to the Aviva Stadium as reserves as Brunel's starting XV contains only one player based outside Italy - Stade Francais No.8 and national team captain Sergio Parisse.
15. Andrea Masi (Aironi Rugby)
14. Giovanbattista Venditti (Aironi Rugby)
13. Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso)
12. Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso)
11. Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso)
10. Tobias Botes (Benetton Treviso)
9. Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso)
1.Michele Rizzo (Benetton Treviso)
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso)
3. Lorenzo Cittadini (Benetton Treviso)
4. Quintin Geldenhuys (Aironi Rugby)
5. Marco Bortolami (Aironi Rugby)
6. Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso)
7. Roberto Barbieri (Benetton Treviso)
8. Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais).
16. Tommaso D'Apice (Aironi Rugby)
17. Fabio Staibano (Aironi Rugby)
18. Antonio Pavanello (Benetton Treviso),
19. Simone Favaro (Aironi Rugby),
20. Fabio Semenzato (Benetton Treviso)
21. Kris Burton (Benetton Treviso)
22. Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne),
Travelling reserves Andrea Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro Paris), Guilio Toniolatti (Aironi Rugby).