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The 9-6 defeat at the Principality Stadium was Australia’s first to Wales in 14 Tests. However, they are strong favourites to bounce back against the Azzurri.
Nevertheless, Michael Cheika’s men cannot afford to be complacent against a team which beat South Africa in 2016 when the Springboks were enduring a similar spell to Australia’s this year.
After a heavy 54-7 defeat to Ireland in their first November Test, Conor O’Shea’s outfit bounced back with a 28-17 win over Georgia, which has put the Wallabies on alert.
“We’ve got to give respect to Italy as a team who we know can upset a lot of teams,” said Matt Toomua prior to the announcement of Cheika’s team, as quoted by Fox Sports Australia.
“But we struggled against them a few years ago back in Australia, so I don’t think going out with wholesale changes would be the smartest tactic.
“But I think at the same time, it’ll be a balance.
“We’ve lost a few on the trot now and we need to win.”
Cheika, however, has rung the changes in his line-up. Scrum-half Jake Gordon is handed his debut, with Jordan Petaia a late withdrawal, meaning Marika Koroibete will partner returning veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper.
There are also positional switches in the team, with Israel Folau moving to full-back and Bernard Foley to inside centre. Toomua comes into the XV at fly-half and Kurtley Beale drops to the bench.
In the forwards, the only changes are in the front-row, with hooker Folau Fainga’a and tighthead prop Taniela Tupou replacing Tolu Latu and Allan Alaalatoa respectively.
By contrast, Italy boss O’Shea has stuck to his guns after the Georgia victory, with Jayden Hayward the lone new face in the starting XV. He comes in at full-back in place of Luca Sperandio.
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Abraham Jurgens Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traorè, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Johan Meyer, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luca Morisi
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Will Genia, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty