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After a hectic few months Ireland and Italy will look to finally restart their 6 Nations campaign. Andy Farrell’s men will be looking to give the Nation a lift having been placed into Level 5 restrictions due to increasing number of covid 19 cases.
With Ireland sitting in fourth in the 6 Nations standings a big win against Italy on Saturday could see them leapfrog France into second providing they get a bonus point.
Ireland will desperately need a win here having been beaten in their last match against England 24-12 back in February to keep their title hopes alive.
Ireland will be lining out with a point to prove as questions have been asked regarding their playing style after being labelled as over choreographed. This coming after a lack of success from the Irish team since Joe Schmidt’s departure.
Ireland team news
Andy Farrell will have some injuries coming into this game with a few players ruled out for Saturday’s clash. Full back Jordan Larmour is out with a dislocated shoulder after Leinster’s Pro 14 win against Bennetton Rugby last weekend.
Lock Ryan Baird is out with an abductor strain sustained against the Dragons in the Pro 14. Hooker Ronan Kelleher and loosehead prop Andrew Porter are both ruled out due to quad and hamstring injuries.
Ireland Captain Johnny Sexton was an injury doubt for the game with a hamstring problem but has since recovered and starts along side Conor Murray once again. Bundee Aki looks to continue his good form and should be a player that can score a try this weekend.
But the shock of all shocks is Jamison Gibson Park being on the bench ahead of Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath, and John Cooney (Didn’t make the squad). Andy Farrell is possibly the only person who has watched rugby over the last two years that thinks Gibson Park is the second best number nine in Ireland.
Italy Team News
Similarly, to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, this is Franco Smiths first Six Nations tournament as Italian head coach. Smith took over the Italian rugby team just before the coronavirus and what a few strange months it has been for him.
Italy and Ireland are the only two sides yet to play their fourth game having been temporarily postponed due to covid 19. Italy currently sit bottom of the 6 Nations standings on zero points with a points difference of minus seventy-two.
Smith will be looking to avoid if possible, finishing his first 6 Nations in last place and will need to win his remaining games to do so.
The Italians have been awarded the wooden spoon for finishing in last place fifteen times in the last twenty years since the beginning of the 6 Nations.
The Italians come into this game on the back of three defeats. These coming against Scotland, France and Wales. The worst of the results coming on the first game week in a 42-0 thrashing against Wales in Cardiff.
Italy will be going into this match with no injuries as of yet and Franco Smith has announced a new squad for the reaming 6 Nations games and the Autumn internationals
When? Where ? Odds
Saturday 5:30 pm TV3/BBC
Venue Aviva Stadium
Previous Meeting Ireland 29-Italy 10
Referee Matthew Carley
Odds Ireland Win 10/11, Draw 22/1, Italy win 10/11
6 Nations Form L/L/L
Read our other articles on everything 6 Nations keeping you up to date at Sports News Ireland.
Click here for more on the Irish rugby team.