A doubt over the fitness of Paul Griffen means former captain Alessandro Troncon has been preferred at scrum-half for Italy's opening RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland in Rome on Sunday.
Troncon, who is Italy's most capped player ever with 85 appearances, missed the whole of last year's Six Nations tournament because of a knee injury.
But Italy coach John Kirwan has opted for the experienced 31-year-old because Griffen is struggling with a hamstring problem.
Griffen, who has been Italy's first-choice number nine in recent times, is likely to start on the bench where he will be joined by New Zealand-born winger Kaine Robertson, who played against Italy for the World XV in last Saturday's All Star match in Catania.
Captain Marco Bortolami has recovered from flu and will lead his side while Luciano Orquera, born in Argentina, will make his debut on the wing.
Kirwan's only real concern is at hooker, where he will decide who will start between Fabio Ongaro and Giorgio Intoppa closer to the match.
Neither player is 100% with Ongaro sustaining a groin injury in training earlier this week while Intoppa, like Bortolami, has also been struggling with flu.
Both forwards are expected to be fit for the match, however, and Kirwan is likely to go for Ongaro to start.
Italy team: R De Marigny (Parma); Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), G Canale (Treviso), A Masi (Viadana), L Nitoglia (Calvisano); L Orquera (Petrarca Padova), A Troncon (Treviso); A Lo Cicero (L'Aquila), F Ongaro (Treviso)/Giorgio Intoppa (Calvisano), M Castrogiovanni (Calvisano), M Bortolami (Narbonne, captain), S Dellape' (Agen), A Persico (Agen), Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais), S Parisse (Treviso).
Replacements: S Perugini (Calvisano), G Intoppa (Calvisano)/Carlo Festuccia (Rugby Parma), CA Del Fava (Parma), D Dal Maso (Treviso), P Griffen (Calvisano)/P Travagli (Viadana), W Pozzebon (Treviso), PK Robertson (Viadana).
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.