Italy v Ireland: Teams
At Stadio Flaminio, Saturday February 5, kick-off 2.30pm
Last Updated: 04/02/11 4:26pm
McLean: Confidence boost
Italy full-back Luke McLean believes victory over Ireland in Rome would be the perfect confidence boost ahead of the World Cup.
The Azzurri have been drawn with Ireland in the group stages of the tournament in New Zealand.
And McLean believes a good start to the RBS Six Nations campaign would throw down a marker for the Italians.
"Everyone is just looking at it as one game and trying to get off to a good start in the Six Nations," he said.
"Obviously last year it didn't happen that way, we got off to a bad start, we didn't play well against Ireland and came out 20 points on the bad side (a 29-11 defeat).
"So obviously we will be trying to get on the good side and then we have the added aspect of them being in our World Cup pool and obviously it would be a bit of a confidence builder if we get the win here and go into the World Cup thinking: if we've beaten them once, we can beat them again."
Italy have named Kristopher Burton at fly-half for the clash, with Edoardo Gori getting the nod at scrum-half.
Sergio Parisse will skipper the side, with Italy naming a strong pack.
Meanwhile, Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has backed Luke Fitzgerald to shine at full-back.
With Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy both injured, Fitzgerald has been forced into action at No.15.
And O'Driscoll believes his Leinster team-mate will have no problems adapting to the change of position.
"When Luke's really booming with confidence he's a very, very dangerous player," said O'Driscoll.
"Both as an attacking and strategic player, he can mix his game well at full-back.
"Like anyone who hasn't played a huge amount of rugby over the last couple of months, you just encourage him to do the simple things well and not try to do the amazing things.
"That will eventually come as the game unfolds, but early on it's about starting well and doing what he's done, both provincially and internationally.
"He knows himself what's expected of him and I don't envisage any issues.
"But he's certainly a pleasure to play with from an attacking point of view, because he has that innate ability to break tackles and offload.
"Whenever you can get a second touch, having given him a pass, it gives yourself an opportunity or it gives the rest of the team an opportunity to continue an attacking play."
Fergus McFadden will make his Ireland debut in Rome, with the Leinster centre set to start on the wing.
With Jamie Heaslip and Stephen Ferris injured, Sean O'Brien and Denis Leamy come into the back row.
Paul O'Connell also returns to the international arena, with Rory Best and Mike Ross starting in the front row.
Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Andrea Masi, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Santiago Dellape, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Carlo Del Fava, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Paulo Canavosio, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Gonzalo Garcia.
Ireland: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (capt), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 David Wallace, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Paddy Wallace.