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Italy face choice of Mt Everest or Mont Blanc

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Sportal.co.nz     16 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Italy's coach Jacques Brunel said when announcing his side for the Test that New Zealand were the Everest of rugby.

"We [Italy] are climbers who have to scale the most difficult mountain without fear, ready to brave the cold and the bad weather. Otherwise, we might as well stay calmly on Mont Blanc," he said.

The teams last met in 2009 when a scrummaging effort in Milan bent the laws and resulted in a reprimand for referee Stu Dickinson from International Rugby Board referees' boss Paddy O'Brien for failing to detect illegalities by Italy.

Italy took some confidence from that performance which they lost 6-20, and also the Test played in New Zealand earlier in the year, when holding to a 6-27 loss

While the sides have met 13 times for 13 New Zealand victories, the game at Olimpico Stadium would be a chance for Italy to show its rate of progress.

"For us it will be an important game to find out what our level is compared to the strongest team in the world, whether we are from them or close," he said.

"The All Blacks are the stiffest test to show us in which direction our work needs to go," he said.

The side for that task will have eight changes from that which beat Tonga 28-23 last weekend.

Wing Mirco Bergamasco, whose muscle injury kept him from playing Tonga, has returned while at first five-eighths Lucian Orquera has been preferred to Kristopher Burton.

Brunel has also called back lock Francesco Minto who debuted in last season's Six Nations but who missed the side's June tour to North America due to injury.
"We wanted to gauge the progress of the whole group and have a look at the players that we haven't seen yet, like Minto, who was injured.

"I think he can help us limited the All Blacks' movement, that's the idea, but that's not the only reason he has been picked," he said.

Italy's team is: 1.Andrea Lo Cicero, 2.Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3.Martin Castrogiovanni, 4.Antonio Pavanello, 5.Francesco Minto, 6.Alessandro Zanni, 7.Simone Favaro, 8.Sergio Parisse (captain), 9.Edoardo Gori, 10.Luciano Orquera, 11.Mirco Bergamasco, 12.Alberto Sgarbi, 13.Tommaso Benvenuti, 14.Giovanbattista Venditti, 15.Andrea Masi.

Reserves: 16.Davide Giazzon, 17.Alberto de Marchi, 18.Lorenzo Cittadini, 19.Quintin Geldenhuys, 20.Mauro Bergamasco, 21.Robert Barbieri, 22.Tobias Botes, 23.Luke McLean.