Major changes for Italy ahead of Six Nations opener

Updated: February 1, 2012

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ROME (AP) — New coach Jacques Brunel has changed nearly half of Italy’s squad for his Six Nations debut against his home nation France on Saturday.

There are seven changes from the final match under Nick Mallett, a 36-6 loss to Ireland in October that eliminated the Azzurri from the Rugby World Cup.

Aironi winger Giovanbattista Venditti will make his debut on the right wing, and the other newcomer in the 22, Benetton Treviso scrumhalf Tobias Botes, is in the reserves.

Prop Andrea Lo Cicero will earn his 92nd cap.

Italy stunned France 22-21 for the first time in the Six Nations last year but still finished last.

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