Ireland travel to Rome in search of a first victory in this year’s Six Nations, having lost to Wales and France in the opening two rounds respectively.
Italy are in a similar boat, having suffered a first round loss to France and a subsequent loss to England at Twickenham.
This weekend’s loser will face an uphill battle to finish anywhere but bottom of the final table, so expect a nervous encounter at the Stadio Olimpico – especially with Ireland traveling like a big one. favorite.
When is Italy versus Ireland?
Saturday February 27.
What time is the kick-off?
The match will start at 14:15 GMT.
What TV channel is it showing on – how can I watch it live?
ITV will be broadcasting this game live. The Telegraph will also bring you live coverage throughout the game.
What is the news of the team?
Italy will prepare for the game in Rome with a 33-man squad, and head coach Franco Smith is expected to name a largely unchanged roster for the game on Thursday, having trusted the youth throughout the tournament nowadays.
Ireland’s Caelan Doris is unlikely to return for the rest of the Six Nations after coach Andy Farrell said back rower Leinster would be out for the “foreseeable future” due to concussion symptoms.
Doris, 22, had been named to the initial 37-man squad for the tournament but was pulled after reporting symptoms that could be associated with a head injury.
When asked if Ireland plans to continue without Doris, Farrell told reporters: “Yes, we are in the foreseeable future.
“Caelan is well groomed, sees the right people, gets the right advice and makes sure he’s comfortable when he returns to the game.”
Farrell also said he was confident regular captain Johnny Sexton and lock James Ryan would be fit for the game against Italy after the pair missed Sunday’s loss to France.
What did we say about the teams?
Charles Richardson argues that criticism of Italy is unfair and lazy. They are a team in transition, he writes, who have spent years trying not to lose Six Nations games – now they are paying the price to try to win them.
After Ireland’s home loss to France, Kate Rowan wrote about how Andy Farrell’s side missed half-back Conor Murray-Johnny Sexton.
Before the start of the tournament, Mick Cleary investigated what Paul O’Connell would bring to the Irish coach ticket.
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What is our prediction?
Italy will want their chances, there is no doubt. At times throughout this campaign, the Azzurri have appeared fluid, relaxed and organized, with precocious half-fly Paolo Garbisi pulling the strings with precision from the half-fly. Italy are always a more difficult proposition in Rome too, and an Irish side that lacks confidence will be terrified of losing to Rome, which would be their third straight loss in the tournament.
But Italy is still a work in progress, with many defensive question marks. Ireland will have too many in the field – with the exceptional Tadhg Beirne likely to be influential – and once Farrell’s side take the lead they may be difficult to stop. James Lowe’s refused try against France was proof enough.
Italy 20 Ireland 24